Who Said Indiana Isn't Exciting??

One evening last week, Mekonen and I were hanging out, waiting for Daddy to get home. I went to let our dog out our back door and saw a buffalo trotting down the side of our yard (outside the fence) toward the front of our house. Of course Macy went nuts and I couldn't get her back inside. I grabbed my phone to call our neighbors who own the buffalo farm and ran to the front door. I opened the front door and there was the buffalo standing on our front porch looking right in our glass door! It was the scariest, but most hilarious thing! Mekonen was standing on the other side of the door, hands in place against the glass, looking VERY curious about what this HUGE beast was. I locked the screen door (instinct I guess, because clearly the buffalo could bust right through it if he wanted to. It was more so Mekonen wouldn't go back and open the door).

I grabbed Mekonen away from door and ran to get my camera. By the time I got the camera, the buffalo stepped off the porch. I got a shot of his butt.
 Here he is checking out the fence. He jumped at it and growled a few times at the three dogs inside our fence! YIKES! I thought he was goin' over! (Jon totally made fun of me for describing it as growling, but how else do you describe the noise? A grunt maybe I guess).
About to head butt our fence. Then I yelled really loud and he stopped. HA!
Here he is going crazy!!!!! Our neighbors house to the right (out of the picture) burned down in a fire. Just the shell is left, everything inside is ash. The buffalo had half his body inside the house! He started grunting and running, acting REALLY hyper....
 ....and then blasted our barrel plant in the middle of our lawn!
 Getting a panorama and the realtor's info because the house is for sale!
After a few minutes, our neighbor who owns the buffalo farm behind our house came on his tractor to lure the buffalo back to the farm with treats. He had a whole load of kids on a hayride watching in awe! 

And who says Indiana isn't exciting??


Why We Are Blessed

I've finally found words to describe my feelings and reactions to a very common phrase I hear in regards to our family. Often times, when people hear of how we adopted our first son from Ethiopia, they say, "He is so blessed!" This always bothered me in a strange way, one that I could never put words to. I know what people mean by the phrase and I don't necessarily think it's bad. Since I could never quite put my finger on it, my response has always been, "No, we're the ones who are blessed." But even though I knew that was the case, and knew what my heart was thinking, I couldn't put the words to why we are the ones who are blessed.
I am reading an incredible book called "Radical" by David Platt. A MUST READ!!  It talks about how we have confused the Gospel with the "American Dream."

God has designed a radically global purpose for our lives- for each and every individual Christian from businessmen, pastors, teachers, doctors, consultants, stay-at-moms, etc. We are to spend all of our lives to make much of God, to make his fame known. Too often, we spend our lives chasing "the American Dream" and making much of ourselves instead.

David Platt says in his book:
I have blessed you for my glory. Not so you will have a comfortable life with a big house, a nice car, and a safe, cozy neighborhood. Not so you can spend lots of money on vacations, education, or clothing. Those aren't bad things, but I've blessed you so that the nations will know me and see my glory!"
There is a great disconnect in our lives between God's blessing and God's purpose. If we are living in our cozy, safe neighborhoods, and attending church on the weekend, going to work and simply paying our bills and working to give our children "a nice life" we have completely missed the mark. We are completely UNFRUITFUL. God does not bless us so we can have all these things. God blesses us so that we can make much of him! So that we can make his fame known among the nations! "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19)."

That's when it hit me. When the words came to what I've been feeling for so long. God HAS blessed us with Mekonen. But he blessed us so that we make much of him! God provided the money, the way, and the means for us to adopt Mekonen- not to satisfy our desire for a child, not to save children, not to simply grow our family, but to make much of God and to spread his fame because adoption is a physical picture of Jesus, saving us, to glorify himself.
Platt says it like this:
We have seen in Scripture a God of unusual, surprising, intimate passion for his people. But that passion does not ultimately center on his people. It centers on his greatness, his goodness, and his glory being made known globally among all people. And to disconnect God's blessing from God's global purpose it to spiral downward into an unbiblical, self-saturated Christianity that misses the point of God's grace.

We have unnecessarily and unbiblically drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all. In this way we choose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because we're "just not called to that." 
God creates, blesses, and saves each one of us for a radically global purpose! What is YOUR radically global purpose? You are unfruitful and unbiblical if your answer simply includes going to church, raising "godly" children, living in a nice, safe neighborhood, and occasionally reaching out to the needy and the poor through "acts of goodness" that take little to no effort or long-term commitment from you.

So the question becomes, how are you impacting the world? "How will you join in the surprisingly simple journey of spreading the gospel to all nations by spending your life for the good of others and the glory of God (Platt)." How will you make much of Jesus?


Do You Think He Loves His Daddy? :)

Everyday Mekonen gets SOOOO incredibly excited when he sees his Daddy pull into the driveway in the squeaky red jeep. He just yells and squeals with excitement.


Training the Badger

One area of parenting that we will concentrate on a lot is "training the badgers." 
These are the children whose plight it is to try and change your every direction, decision, and guidance through a series of badgering.

Common synonyms: to nag, harass, pester, constantly question, or irritate.

The common excuse many parents give for these children? "They are so persistent" (said in a somewhat flustered tone, yet desperately trying to convince themselves that persistence is good and that surely if they label this tiny badger as persistent that some good has to come out of it right?)

But, persistence is not the underlying positive characteristic. The underlying characteristic is a foolish heart (Proverbs) that is unwilling to submit to authority that God has placed over them to wisely govern and direct them. 

A child badgers when he asks his parents for something and doesn't get it upon his first asking. The problem in the scenario of this tiny badger is not the badger himself, but the parents. A parent gives their answer to a question and a child continues to ask, or better yet, phrases the question differently every time to try and "disguise" their disobedience by continually asking. This often goes unchecked and the parent remains continually frustrated and exhausted from all the badgering. If a child is doing this, it is apparent that sometimes it works, which is why they do it. If a child learns that they NEVER get what they are seeking by badgering, they won't badger. The parents either train them to badger, or train them not to badger.

The big underlying question: who will be the most persistent in adhering to their side of the conflict? The parent or the child? If it's the child, you have just begun to train a badger.

The biggest problem in giving your child an answer, having them badger, and then you changing your mind, is that you are sending the complete wrong message. The child does not see the answer as a result of their parent's wisdom and discernment, and role of authority in their life, but rather, they see the answer as being a result of their badgering. Therefore, they don't come to understand that their parents give answers and requests based on what is right and what is good for them. "No parent can have the truest respect of a child, while the child knows that he can badger that parent into compliance with the child's request, contrary to the parent's real or supposed conviction" (H. Clay Trumbull).

Sometimes a parent answers a child's request too quickly, without all the information. The child begins to badger and after they get all the information the parent realizes they did not have all the necessary information and decided to change their mind. You are still training a badger. Again, the child feels his badgering won you to his side, not the fact that you changed your mind based on your own good judgment of the situation (whether you tell them that or not).

So how to alleviate that?
  • Do your thinking before you give an answer
  • Make sure you fully understand the situation before you answer
  • Question the child if necessary to get more information before answering
  • Make sure that you know all you need to know to give an answer that your child accepts as final, the first time
  • Follow through on requiring that your child does not badger you. This has to happen every single time. Children love a good gamble... if they've gotten away with it once, they will try and try again knowing it's possible to get away with again at some point. 


18 Months!

18 Months!
So this post is a little late... Mekonen turned 18 months on June 28th! Can't believe it! 

18 Things You Are Up To These Days!
  1. You weigh 28.45 lbs (81%), are 34 inches tall (90%) and wear a shoe size 7!!  
  2. You say these words consistently and correctly: Mommy, Daddy, night-night, ball, car, dog, baby and the beginnings of Grandma and Grandpa. You continue to sign please, more, drink, all done, help, and thank-you.
  3. You started giving kisses with your mouth in a little pucker. It's adorable. No more open mouth kisses! 
  4. You LOVE, let me repeat, LOVE to be outside. No matter what adult is around, you will go over to them, grab their hand, and lead them to the nearest door with a little "grunt." You love to just explore and don't pay much attention to toys when you're outside. You absolutely love to walk in Grandpa Oren's garden with him.
  5. You have started your own comedy routine of throwing your head back and pretending to fall down. You laugh and laugh, thinking this is wildly funny.
  6.  You love eating dinner around the table with lots of people. You jabber and blab the whole time. If too much time passes between attention on you, you yell very loudly so someone looks at you.
  7. You love the water! You cry everytime we finish whatever water activity we are doing such as swimming, your water table, the splash park, and the bath tub. 
  8. You eat everything we are eating for dinner now and snack on cheese, cut-up fruit, kidney beans, crackers, and chick peas. You are a great eater!
  9. You love to listen to music...especially with a good beat. We have some hallmark cards that play music and you open them and close until the card no longer makes music. You sit there and bop your head to the beat. It's so cute.
  10. You have started to climb on the furniture and are able to get yourself into pretty much any chair. We are working on "no standing on the furniture" now. :) 
  11. You LOVE books, which is a far cry from when we first brought you home. All day long you brings us books to read you. You still love books with a rhyme or rhythm to them best, such as the Sandra Boynton books, but you are getting better at sitting through "regular" stories. 
  12. You are pretty much running quite steadily now. It's not super fast, but you can move! 
  13. You are becoming very pleasant to have in people's homes with us. You are understanding boundaries better and better and have a happy spirit staying within them (for the most part anyway. You are not perfect, but doing well). Knock on wood right? 
  14. It is so easy to get you to laugh and giggle: singing the Wheels on the Bus, pound fists, a good game of chase, peek-a-boo, and the classic funny face routine.
  15. You can point out your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hair, toes, and belly button. You get confused with pointing out your fingers though because you point with your fingers. You used to always point to the other person's nose when someone said "where's your nose?" But now you have found your own!
  16. You constantly point to us in pictures and say, "Mommy," "Daddy." When your Grandma watched you for a whole day a couple weeks ago you kept carrying our picture around with you and saying, "Mommy, Daddy."
  17. You refer to yourself as "baby" in pictures.
  18. You are beginning to LOVE the spotlight. As you can see by the picture below, you are "on stage" at our friends pool entertaining the masses, all of whom are between the ages of 5 and 10. So much so that five year old Jude reported yesterday about the ledge in the pool, "This is Mekonen's stage. Put him on it when he gets here." I think this picture is a sign of things to come! Lord help us! :)



Last year on July 4th, a little baby all the way in Ethiopia consumed our thoughts! Last year, we walked to the fireworks and talked about how next year, Mekonen would get to be with us. Crazy how a year from then has passed and for the first time, we brought Mekonen to the fireworks!

This was the night before the fireworks when we went to see some hot air balloons. Mekonen was mesmerized! He kept pointing to them and yelling, "ball!!!"
Mekonen hanging out in his stroller waiting for the fireworks to start. It was WAAAAY past his bedtime. :)
Mommy & Daddy.... Happy Anniversary!
Mekonen (with Grandma Magz and Grandpa) was very confused at first over what was going on in the sky! He kept pointing up at the fireworks. Haha.
Daddy & Meko
Mommy & Meko
So sweet...Grandpa and Mekonen


Really? 5 Years Ago?

On July 4th, five years ago, we became Us!!
Here are some excerpts from a scrapbook I made about Jon and I for our wedding. 
 How We Met
The first time I met Jon was during my sophomore year at Cedarville. The phone rang and I was confronted with a guy's voice that was shaking with nerves! He said, "Hi Rachael, you don't know me, but my name is Jon Oren." I didn't quite understand what he said for his last name, so I said, "What did you say your last name was?" And he replied, "Oren, like oreo, but without the O." Hahaha. Right away, I knew I had a winner with that one. He asked me out on a date, without us ever meeting and me having no clue who he was. As soon as we hung up the phone I went out into the hall and yelled, "Does anyone know a Jon Oren?" A friend of mine came running in saying, "Yes! I do! He is awesome. Did he ask you out? You have to go!" I actually agreed to go out with someone I had never met before, which was totally uncharacteristic of me!

The *Kiss*
The first time Jon kissed me was on Dec. 16, 2003. Jon had come home to PA with me after college finals to meet my family. We had a wonderful weekend together and he was leaving to go back to Indiana. I knew there were several times when Jon wanted to kiss me, but for some reason, I didn’t let him! Anytime there was an opportunity to kiss me, I would turn my head so he could kiss my cheek. He was okay with that at first, but then came the day he had to leave. We were standing right outside my garage and it was snowing. He leaned over to give me a hug and then leaned in to kiss what I figured would be my cheek again. But then he said, “Rachael, keep your head still,” and he kissed me. I definitely didn’t turn my head that time! Jon was so smitten by our first kiss that when he got in his car and left he was going in the complete wrong direction for awhile. I guess love will do that to you! 

Scandalous pictures hidden away in the library! woot-woot!!

When We Knew We Would Marry
Jon: The first time I knew I would marry Rachael was only a few short weeks after we started dating. Rachael and I were sitting in Cedarville’s cafeteria eating dinner. Somehow, we got on the topic of how my hair is really thick and straight and how her hair is really curly. I chimed in at just the right moment with the fact that our children would probably have curly hair. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I quickly apologized for jumping the gun. But Rachael just smiled and laughed her usual laugh. I don’t think she cared one bit.
 Rachael: I knew I would marry Jon from the first time I went on a double date with him and his roommate Jeremy, and Katie (who soon became his wife). There was just something different about him. The more we talked the more I found out how we had a lot of the same goals in life. He also reminded me a lot of my dad. It’s funny to think that I knew way back then, in December of 2002, but I didn’t give in to Jon’s pursuit of me until a year later! I came back to my room that night and told my roommate Leah and my best friend Rachel that I knew this was the guy I was going to marry!
Jon, I wouldn't want to do life with anyone but you! I can't believe all we've accomplished and all the ways we've grown. I can't wait to see what comes next! I love you!
Pictures by our amazing friend Joanna. www.mymeanderings.xanga.com