Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

Coincidence? I think not!

Deuteronomy 30:19: "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live."

Monday, September 27, 2010

Motley Monday (and 2 motley monday miracles!)

Last week God broke my heart when I read about Yulia and I posted some of that here. God used this sweet little girl to teach me, humble me and remind me that He is still in charge. And God is still using sweet Yulia to show me a new direction for our life but we'll have more on that later.

God used my blog and so many other blogs to spread the story of Yulia and the passion of one mother, Adeye. And I am thrilled, overjoyed, speechless at how God moved. In less than 5 days God's people joined together and raised the $20,000 needed to bring Yulia home. Part of me is stunned and in awe of God's goodness but another part of me feels like I (we) should have known this would happen. Because miraculous things come together when God's people join together. And Romans 8:28 tells us that God works for the good of those who love him. Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over to all those who donated... now we need to pray that Yulia finds a forever family and that they are able to rescue her soon. Please keep praying for this with me.

In other miraculous news, have I mentioned that Gabe is on the move? And just like the Gabe you've come to know and love, he is doing it HIS way. Why do I say 'his' way? Because according to a medical diagnosis' Gabe should be paralyzed on his left side and according to the world Gabe is supposed to crawl first. But Gabe doesn't know this and Gabe does what he was made to do; surprise us all!

Gabe moves around the house doing a roll, crawl, scoot maneuver and manages to work his way through doorways, under tables and just about anywhere he wants to go.

On a completely different note, for Gabe's birthday he received a card from his Uncle Matt, Aunt Mariah and cousin Caleb that played music and he loved it!!! He loved it so much that exactly one month later it fell apart from being opened and closed repeatedly. And if something that costs $5 could bring him so much joy there was no way I could deny him that happiness. So when we were in Target Thursday we headed over to the card aisle and tried to find the same card. It was not there but we did find a different one and it plays the theme song from Rocky. And Gabe loves it! He bops his head and dances every time he opens it. And he opens it anytime he can get his little hands on it. Over the weekend I believe I was hearing it in my sleep...or he just snuck into his bed. {SMILE}

This past Saturday Matt, Gabe and I went to a friends adoption fundraiser! Gabe sported his 147 Million Orphan's t-shirt and I wore my Ordinary Hero shirt! I love when we were clothes that do more than keep us warm!

Our friends are adopting from Russia and have just a few more months to wait before they will get their call to travel. I have known this couple since high school and Heather was a two years ahead of me, played soccer with me and always provided me with lots of encouragement on and off the soccer field. I find it amazing that after graduating high school 9 (yikes!) years ago, that we found our way back to a friendship. This world of adoption is so big, yet so small and has such a wonderful way of bringing people together. We were so excited to be able to go attend their fundraiser!

To say they're excited would be nothing but an understatement and they are so ready to be parents. Heather even has that Mom-to-be glow about her!

Gabe is turning into quite the little daddy's boy. Gabe now calls Matt Da-da and gets so excited when he comes home from work. So excited that Matt either has to sneak in and change or take Gabe with him. Because once Daddy is home, Gabe is not letting him out of his sight! Watching Gabriel light up whenever he sees his Da-da is one of the highlights of my day. Inadvertently, now that Gabe is such a Da-da's boy I'm spending more and more time alone in the bathroom! Ooops, was that too much information?!?!

And because I can't hoard all the cuteness just for myself, I thought I'd share some pictures of Gabe having a tubby! Yes he loves the bubbles, although they never last long as he loves splashing more than bubbles {SMILE}

And did I remember to show you this picture? Gabe is holding onto our adoption application before we mailed it at the post office. Exciting right? And doesn't Gabe just have the cutest little chubby fingers?

Hope everyone has a fantastic week!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

break His heart

About a year and a half ago I began praying that God would allow the things that break his heart to break mine. And slowly over the past 18 months God has done just that.

God opened our heart to adopt an orphan from Africa (we had started this process prior to finding out about Gabe too). God showed us a need, whispered to our spirit and now, 14 months later we're moving forward with our 2nd adoption. God broke our heart for the people, and even more so the orphans in Ethiopia.

God opened our heart to the homeless in our area. Previously, while I'd feel compassion for the homeless there was a part of me that would wonder why that person didn't do anything more to help themselves. And then my lifegroup began serving meals at the Salvation Army. And now regardless of the circumstances that cause homelessness I've learned compassion, empathy and heartbreak for the homeless and hungry in northeast Ohio.

And then tonight, I pulled up my blogroll and clicked on No Greater Joy Mom and God broke my heart all over. I will never understand how anyone could ever think any child is worthless? How anyone anywhere could deny a child a loving touch or a warm hug.

Sweet little Yulia

"The Son of Man will put the sheep (good people) on his right and the goats (bad people) on his left. "Then the king will say to those good people on his right, 'Come. My Father has given you great blessings. Come and get the kingdom God promised you. That kingdom has been prepared for you since the world was made. You can have this kingdom, because I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your home. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.' "Then the good people will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?' "Then the king will answer, 'I tell you the truth. Anything you did for any of my people here, you also did for me.'" - Matthew 25:33-40

God calls us to care for what the world considers to be the "least," but right now I'm not sure how to help sweet Yulia. The only thing I knew to do would be to pray and to blog about it. Maybe someone I know, knows a way to get this sweet little girl home to a family who will love her for everything she is, everything she could be and everything that she'll never be.

I can not even fathom Gabriel spending his life in crib not knowing a loving touch or feel a cool breeze on his sweet face. And someone else's baby is being held hostage in Ukraine knowing none of the love that she should have had her whole life.

I don't know what to do or how to help... I just know that we should do something.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Knots

I just read this poem on an adoption blog that I've been following for a few weeks. It's located in their sidebar and for some reason I didn't see it until just now. And I think I didn't see it because I needed to see it today. And for some reason, I think that there is someone else that needs to read it too.

No Knots

Dear God,
Please untie the knots that are in
my mind, my heart and mylife.
Remove the have nots, the can
nots and the do nothat that I have
in my mind.
Erase the will nots, may nots,
and might nots that may find a home
in my heart.
Release me from the could nots,
would nots and should nots that
obstruct my life.
And most of all,
Dear God,
I ask that you remove from my
mind, my heart and my life all of
the 'am nots' that I have allowed
to hold me back.
especially the thought that I am
not good enough.
Author Unknown.

Love & Blessings!

Monday, September 20, 2010

I am a Browns Fan

Yes, I am from northeast Ohio and yes, I love the Browns! On fall and winter Sunday afternoons you can undoubtedly find me, my husband and even Gabe watching the Browns. And while we generally watch the Browns lose, we still watch. And each game we still cheer and each game I am 'sure' that they are going to pull out a win.

Take yesterday for instance, Matt and I were fortunate enough to get to go to the Home opener. We cheered, stood up, cried foul and cheered some more all whilst willing the Brown's to pull together a win. We waited until the time clock read 1:07 and the officials had ruled that the Chiefs made their 1st down before we vacated our seats and joined the swarms of people who were leaving the stadium.
Upon walking out of the stadium I realized that no matter how good (or how bad) the Browns play on the field I will still watch, still cheer and still hope that they're able to pull through. Whether the season go as I predict ( 9 - 7 with a play-off bid) or follow their current streak and end 0 -16 I will continue to be a Browns fan, continue to cheer them on and continue to wallow in the grief of being devoted to a team that continues to let me down.

And that's when it hit me! Not quite an epiphany but a realization all the same. Sometimes, a lot less often than before thank goodness, but occasionally all the same, the relationship I have with God reflects my love affair with the Browns.
You see I struggle all on my own, I do my best but when I'm doing it all on my own my best just doesn't work. And quite often when I'm doing things myself I fumble, fall and fail at reaching my goal. Just like the Browns.

For the Browns there are 11 players on the offense, 11 on the defense, special teams players, coaches, assistants and trainers but more often than not they forget that they're part of a team, rely little on one another and fall short of getting the win.
And sometimes I'm that way too. I forget that I'm not a one-man team. I forget that I have a captain (God) to lead me, a coach (God) to help direct my moves and watch over me and lots of friends and family that are in this adventure with me.

But just like the Browns, when I fumble, fail or even forget to try God is right there with me. And when he watches from the sidelines and sees me ignoring His playbook (my Bible), He still helps me up each time I fall. He still cheers me on, lifts my spirits and directs my path. And while it may not always be pretty... while I may get disgusted with how the Browns play but still cheer them on, I am certain there are times that God is disgusted with the way I forget to let Him lead, leave Him out of certain areas of my life and let Him down He is always still there for me.

Now I'm not in anyway trying to say that I love the Browns as much as God loves me because that's certainly not true. For one I would never allow Gabriel to die so that the Browns could live (or win) and secondly no love could ever compare to God's love.

During that long walk from the stadium filing by equally disappointed Browns fan, God used that moment to show me that no matter what happens, no matter who wins or loses, regardless of the end results He is there.

And while there are times my faith in the Browns will waiver my faith in God will not. And while my Browns may continue to let me down, my God won't.
That, my friends, is the best win yet!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Gabe and his GAK

Do you have a GAK? Gabe has a GAK! Matt doesn't have a GAK and I don't have a GAK.

Meet GAK:

This is Gabe and his Great Aunt Kim. Gabe's GAK is my aunt. And a few weekends ago she mosied up here from her farm down south to visit with her sister and see her great nephew. I still hold fast to the fact that she came only to see Gabe and visiting with my mom was just a bonus.

Gabe did his usual "I don't like new people" face at their first visit but as the weekend progressed fell into quite a comfortable repoire with his GAK. And I was so happy! Happy that Aunt Kim was finally able to meet Gabriel, happy to see Aunt Kim after 1 1/2 years and happy that Gabe seemed to love his GAK as much as I love my auntie.

Throughout Gabe's first year I'd think of Aunt Kim often and remember the sweet and supportive emails she would send me as Matt and I began trying to have a family and when we decided to adopt. I'd remember talking to her at the big kitchen table in their old farm house and wish she was sitting at my little kitchen table with me and Gabe. And then sometimes I'd be sad that Gabe wouldn't know his great aunt Kim like I knew my aunt Kim.

But Aunt Kim surprised us with a visit and my little man who wants no one but his Mama and Daddy was easily (well, maybe not easily) won over by GAK and that filled my heart to overflowing. Because aunt Kim is very special to me and I wanted Gabe to know her too.

Gabe has lots of wonderful people in his life who are going to teach him so many different things. He has uncles who will teach him all about sports, trucks and mudding, aunts who will teach him about love and forgiveness, 'aunties' who will teach him about perseverance and what family really means and so many other people who will help us teach Gabe everything he needs to know to help him grow up into a Christ-loving young man.

And Gabe's GAK, from her he'll learn about strength, perseverance and how to love your family fiercely. Because with a husband, 6 children and oodles of grandchildren Aunt Kim loves her family fiercely. And that's what I too learned from her: to love my famly fiercely. Thanks GAK!

Silly boy and GAK

Nothing says love like blowing raspberries!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Day 16 & Delurking Day!

We're more than halfway done with our beans and rice experience. Or should we say challenge? A challenge because every evening it has become challenging to want to eat dinner no matter how hungry we feel.

And when I feel this way, I immediately feel ashamed because in just a few short weeks we will stop eating beans and rice every evening and go back to tasty dinners of lasagna, chicken pot pie.. any thing we want while many children in Africa will continue to be lucky to have a belly full of beans and rice when they go to bed at night.

the picture is from last night, but it looked a lot like tonight's dinner too ;)

And for all you lurkers out there... you know who you are. You read our blog but either don't comment or aren't a 'follower.' Well we want to know who you are! So... just leave a comment saying, well saying whatever you want (but FYI we don't post nasty comments) so we know who visits our little blog. Thanks!

And because this picture is just too cute to keep to myself:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Quick Update!

Just in case we're not 'friends' on facebook or I didn't text you yesterday afternoon (thank goodness for unlimited text) I just thought you'd like to know that we're in!!!

And by "in" I mean we've officially been accepted into the Ethiopia Program through All God's Children International. It is quite possible that are little ones is already alive and waiting for us in Addis Abba, Ethiopia being cared for by the loving people at Hannah's Hope.

We feel so blessed that God has trusted us to care for another one of His greatest miracles and I'm fairly certain Gabe is pretty excited to have a sibling!!! He just doesn't know it yet!!

And in other news, we still haven't heard back from insurance regarding Gabriel's eye. I suppose we'll be calling tomorrow!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bye Bye Formula

Gabe is spending a lot more time in here:

And drinking less and less of these:

So yesterday we opened our last bottle of this:

And while we're glad to get rid of the oh-so expensive monthly formula bill, I'll admit I was a little nostalgic that we'll no longer be making bi-monthly visits to Babies R Us and a little wistful about the fact that shortly Gabe will no longer need any bottles.

On the other hand I am so grateful that Gabe continues to grow and develop like the little miracle that he is. But I will remember that as Gabe continues to do new firsts, he will also be doing 'lasts' and I will cherish every moment of them.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 9

9 straight days of Beans and Rice for dinner.... I knew it wouldn't be easy but I didn't think that the smell of rice and beans would actually make me nauseous nightly.

I know I can do this for 21 more days but I can't imagine having to eat beans and rice 3 times a day, every day just so my stomach is full.

But as we sit down to dinner every night I am reminded of how blessed I am...
  • to be eating beans and rice. To have something to warm and filling so I don't have to go to sleep hungry.
  • that Matt has a job that provides us with a home, food and all of the essentials of life.
  • for the opportunity to challenge ourselves to eat beans and rice for a month to save money, raise awareness and try to make a difference
  • that God is using this beans and rice experience to change the way day I look at everyday life. I'm becoming more grateful for what I have, more aware of the unjust social and economical differences that separate us from those less fortunate than us.

And as the close of September draws nearer with every passing day God keeps breaking my heart over pictures like these:

pictures of children who usually go to bed with empty stomachs and are some of the lucky ones to have beans and rice to eat at every meal.

I can do this; I can eat beans and rice for 21 more days. And with every meal I'll know that God is helping us save money for our adoption so that our sweet little one doesn't have to eat beans and rice everyday or go to bed with an empty stomach.

They'll be home with us, living a remarkably different life filled with lots of love, laughter and food.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What a Difference!

Same Festival

Same Street

Same Family

What a difference a year makes!

Valley City Street Fair 2009

Valley City Street Fair 2010 (much easier to take a picture of a 2 week old than a 12 month old!)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beans and Rice and an Eye Update!

Eye Update: Insurance did not deny Gabriel's surgery (yet?) but did request pictures of his eye to help them make their decision. So downtown we went yet again to have Gabe's pictures taken. He didn't like it too much and I didn't like him not like it... but we made it through and hopefully now we're one step closer to getting Gabriel's eye lid fixed and his vision saved!

And now for the other part of the post:

For the month of September the LaGorga household (sans Gabe**) will be eating A LOT of this:

A year ago I read about the Rice and Beans challenge on the blog Building the Blocks and wanted to do it! It took a little convincing of Aaron and then emptying our freezer/refrigerator before we were able to do it but now we are!

Why are we doing this? Most children in third world countries feel blessed to have one warm meal of beans and rice daily and as beans and rice are a staple food of the orphanage we're adopting from we thought that this would be a good 'experience' for us to have. I call it an experience, because at the end of the 30 days of September we'll go back to having lasagna, chicken pot pie, pot roast and whatever else we please for dinner. But hopefully we'll always remember the tedium of eating the same thing for dinner night after night.

Why beans and rice? Well we're eating it because that's the typical diet of an orphan in Ethiopia and they eat it because 1.) it's inexpensive, 2.) beans are really good for you and 3.) rice is very filling. So you get a healthy, tummy-filling meal for a low price.

Focusing on the inexpensive aspect: we are going to use the money saved from our grocery budget to put in our adoption fund. Our dinner prices for the month of September will be exponentially lower and the money saved will move us a little bit closer to bringing our family home.

We'll see how it goes. We may have it, we may love it, we will get sick of it quickly but we will do it. Sacrificing something so little to gain something as great as another family member isn't really a sacrifice at all.

Will you pray that we remember why we're eating beans and rice for dinner and pray that God uses this experience to continue to change us?

**While Gabriel will be eating beans and rice for dinner with his Mama and Daddy we will also be giving him his usual fruits/veggies/protein that he eats at every meal. Why? Well we don't want him to stop liking the fruits and vegetables we serve him every meal and by feeding Gabriel his usual food while we eat beans and rice will hopefully further impress on us the fact that are little one(s) across the ocean are surviving on something so little/plain/pitiful while Gabe continues to grow and thrive on everything we're able to provide for him.