Thursday, November 14, 2013


With the calendar now well into November, I am reading and hearing daily the thoughts of many on being 'thankful'. What they are thankful for, what is counted as blessing... How fitting that this month gives us both Orphan Sunday and Thanksgiving, Frehiwot's birthday and Jenna's birthday.

I am finding myself in a place of relearning gratitude. Closely looking into the heart of thankfulness through new lenses. Lenses washed daily by these mourning mother tears.
Despite my anguish, the ability to recognize blessings is still ever-present within me.
                                                Healthy children.
                                               Faithful husband.
                                              Supportive friends and family.
                                             Financial stability.
What I struggle with is gratitude. It is defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.  Hmmmmmm.

Appreciation. I am still able to  appreciate things, people, blessings. That's part of God carrying me. It's part of seeing His glory in the ruins. The smiles on the faces of my children. The strong embrace of  soulmate husband who sobs quietly with me.  A note from a friend, softly touching my heart. I appreciate these.
 Returning kindness. Have I lost the ability to be kind? Nah. Still capable of smiling at strangers, running errands for a friend, helping child with most urgent crafting need. The Holy Spirit still warms. Still stirs in me. I am not ice.
 The battle is in the thankfulness. Can I thank Him for this? Can I utter prayers of thanksgiving for my dead daughter? Those words sting hard. How could I? Why would I? How do I connect the dots between my darkest sorrow and the light of living fully, in spite of?

Jesus, on the night before his death, knowing that he was about to be murdered, uttered prayers of thanksgiving for His present situation. Christ knew he was put on this earth to serve a holy purpose, and he still asked for that cup to be taken from him, but he also said in John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." He was willing to yield to the will of his father God and give thanks for the master plan. Even though he would suffer greatly. He trusted. Trusted wholly. 
Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts, "Trust is the bridge from yesterday to tomorrow, built with planks of thanks. Remembering frames up gratitude. Gratitude lays out planks of trust. I can walk the planks-from known to unknown- and know: He holds."
Wholly trusting in God makes us capable of giving thanks to Him without knowing the master plan. Think about this. If you ask your friend to make cookies for a party you are having and you can trust that she will do that for you, you can thank her in advance for helping you, right? "Thank you so much for helping me out on Saturday. I can always depend on you." We are so willing to trust other humans but completely trusting in God, somehow leaves us squirming. Why? 
God gave us his perfect son! He let him die as a grace gift to us. A holy washing of sins past, present and future. A promise of eternal bliss. A covenant to always give us what is best and right.  And yet I pause when I am faced with trusting this God, faithful grace giver. I lean. Control. 
So, thanking God for Marra Frehiwot's death seems crazy. Crazy unless I can first fully lean into Him and trust that His plan, as painful as it feels now, is always better than mine.
 Connecting the dots from  here to there. No easy task. It takes recognizing that this is my reality. Kind guidance from onlookers to 'love the kids you still have' and to 'look at the positives' are all so good, fit for a perfect outcome. A better tomorrow. But what I am faced with today is the knowledge that I now have two selfs. The one who weeps in solitude and sometimes in the presence of those willing to suffer with, step beyond their comfort, into my void. I weep for the perfect child whose love story brought me out of darkness and into the light. Pointed my face towards Him and led me into transformation. A spiritual ache that started before ink on contract, but evolved and yearned for more of Him. I pleaded in 2010 for this Grace-giver to keep me closest to his Holy side, however he see fit. Unexplained heart failure, bone marrow biopsies, serious neck injury. There, in His palm. Craving more of Him. Filling slowly. 
Then, the gift. The face of love. Redemption. Marra Frehiwot. May 16, 2011. First gaze into those big, bright eyes.  The face of faith lived out loud. Love story, matched. "Marra" meaning gift and "Frehiwot" meaning Fruit of Life. What a life. Finally, feeling ready.
December 2011, orphan-angel was stuck. Mother desperate, I flew to Ethiopia with a plan to find Freh's birth mom, uncover truth and return with Angel in tow, just in time for Christmas. God was there, every.step. every street. every interaction. Divine appointments. Answers filled pages and I was in awe of  His power. I flew home without Freh on Dec. 15 in order to celebrate Christmas with my family. To offer the wonder and beauty of the Gift to four little ones through gingerbread, sparkling lights and stockings hung with care. Sten and I returned to Ethiopia together on my birthday, Jan.3, to lift our sweet Angel into our arms, forever. Never to be apart.  We arrived home on Jan. 7th, Ethiopian Christmas. Our gift, from God. 
Eighteen months with this God-child who transfigured my soul. My children's outlook on the Kingdom, forever changed because of one child. Her laugh, her sense of humor, her smile, her eyes. We were all drawn in and I thanked God everyday for His gift. My reward. I was thankful.
Imagine the present void.
The other 'self' that now must push onward is the one who bloomed then. The new creation whom He held at his Holy side. The me who mothers five remarkable children. The me who is surrounded by incredible friends and family. The me who still makes dinner, cleans house, folds shirts in 7 different sizes. The me who sees her blessings and counts them by name. The me who spends quiet time daily in His word, the ultimate love story. The me who falls heavy-hearted each night and rises renewed each morning to face another day with new orphan-angel, demonstrating love. teaching boundaries. offering family. I remember.
 I close my eyes and see Christ on tree. I am comforted in knowing that God knows exactly my hurt. He hears my cries and identifies precisely with my anguish. My Creator is in my circle of 'dead-child friends'. Need I long for more? 
I have been given a tuning fork for my life. A chance to take this void and use it in a life-offering to God. I trust that I am blind-child, He, the loving, all-seeing, all-knowing Father. I yield.

" Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
  Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
    and blot out all my iniquities. 
 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
    and renew a right spirit within me. 
 Cast me not away from your presence,
    and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit."
Psalm 51:6-12
I trust that His master plan for me is laced with love and tender care for detail. More perfect and beautiful than anything my simple human heart could conjure. My spirit is willing, Father. I give resounding thanks in advance for the beauty that will come from these ashes because I can wholly depend on you. 
Thank you for the beautiful, vivid memories of my angel, Freh. Her giggle and touch linger still. Her scent just there, ready for appreciation. Thank you, Lord, for healing hearts. For tighter, more precise stitches in this tapestry. Grateful is my soul for the gift that whispers to each of us to live life more lovely, to go beyond comfort, to expect greater things. Thank You for the perfect angel child we held here on Earth as a foretaste of Heaven.

Little did I understand the significance of this shirt when I dressed her for her birthday which fell on Thanksgiving last year.


  1. That's beautiful, Amy. You are amazing, and I can see how weak things are being made strong.

  2. So beautiful Amy...your writing, the picture of Freh, your dependence on God, how "real" you are. You are an amazing testimony of His faithfulness. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Amy, I mostly know you from Ashley but, I do remember you and your family when we lived in Kane. You are changing lives! Thank you for that. As Christians we all want to make an impact for Him and we seek to be more like Jesus as we walk with Him. You, Amy through your powerful testimony to His love and faithfulness are doing that even with people who only know you through what you share on FB and this blog. Thank you!

  4. As a fellow adoptive mama, I am crying as I read this. Though I don't know you personally, I hear your mama-heart and it resonates deeply with me. Your voice matters... thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Your writing is beautiful, Amy. My heart breaks for you and with you, as I lost my only son on the same day Freh went home. I was telling Erica how similar our posts are today and I am sure it is no coincidence.

  6. Amy, Thank you for sharing your heart so openly. Love seeing your trust and confidence in the Lord. So grateful He is your Comforter and Portion.<3

    Audrey Drago

  7. Beautiful, Amy. Thank you for sharing your heart so intimately. <3