Thursday, March 31, 2011

need a killer mother's day gift?

since, god-willing, i'll be headed to ethiopia sooner rather than later, i'm doing the allison lewis photography giveaway a little early this year.  come join in the fun (and snag FREE pictures while you're at it)!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

there's too much going on for a wordless wednesday

i wanted to share with you that we heard some fantastic news from our adoption agency this morning: our paperwork is completely and finally through MoWA!!!  we passed court on march 10, but we were still dependent on that agency to process some final documents for micah's birth certificate.  with all of the uncertainty surrounding MoWA's involvement in ethiopian adoptions, our case worker had told us to expect it to be a while before we traveled to bring him home. 

but in light of how powerfully the lord showed himself in getting us through court in the first place, we a) confessed that we don't know the perfect time to travel but b) began praying that he would push our paperwork through and would allow us to travel in april before i begin a rush of weddings and other exciting photography events (i.e. the late-may birth of a precious friend's baby).  so today when i got the news from patricia, i wrote her back after learning the relatively little amount that needs to be done before our embassy appointment and asked about expected travel dates.

she said, possibly april.


please pray with us for good reports, processed paperwork, and perfect timing.  and make sure you pray for this little guy, too.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

jack would like a stuffed anne perry for his birthday

as i was telling a friend tonight, i intentionally put my camera away for a while around here because i woke up one day and realized that i was spending way more time documenting life than i was living life.  if josh and i took the kids to the park, i came home with 150 photos...but no memories.  if we headed to the zoo for the day, i returned with loads of animal photos, abby/jack/izzy photos, and abby/jack/izzy-with-the-animals photos.  but i interacted almost solely from behind the lens of my camera.  so i tucked it away, focused on playing with my little people, and found a much healthier balance.

so now that i'm back to blogging about day-to-day life with the lewis fam, i thought i would pull out photos from some of our recent fun and prove to those of you who thought the life and times of the lewis crew had all but vanished that we're still here, we're still having fun, and i'm still taking pictures of it all.

i'm just taking less pictures of it all and enjoying it mostly sans camera.  :-)

a few weeks ago, our friends anna and paul brought their three girls up to birmingham for a visit and a little playtime.  now i've talked about this family many, many times before, but let me say it just one more time: the lord blessed us immensely when he crossed our paths almost 15 years ago when we were all freshmen at samford university.  i simply adore anna and paul, and i simply adore their little darlings.

this is what kept addie entertained during their visit...

but this is how poor audrey kate and anne perry spent most of their time here.  with my kids all in their faces.

but in their sweet, good-natured way, they soaked it all in and actually seemed to enjoy it.

even when jack did this...  (notice both of his hands)

what warmed my heart the most, though, was seeing jack and anne perry play together so much.  my girls are always up for playing with a baby, but jack...not so interested.  he's been talking continually lately, though, about wishing his little brother would come home soon, so i think he was happy to spend some time with the under-one crowd.

gracious, i love these little people.  all six (hopefully soon seven) of them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

that's what happens when you bite my daughter

you know that book about the "five love languages"?  i can't remember all of them, but there's something about acts of service, gift-giving, et cetera, et cetera.  well i'm convinced that abby has a love language all of her own, and it's wrapped up in picture drawing.  that girl whips out anywhere from 3 or 4 to sometimes 20 pictures a day that she's drawn for me, josh, one of the grandparents, a friend or neighbor, the mailman, the checkout lady at the dollar tree, or anybody else that comes to her little mind.  here's one of my recent gifts (apparently neither abby nor i was feeling so hot that day):

as an expansion of her love of picture-drawing, we've been working in school on writing with words as well.  typically it's been with an assigned topic or a suggested word bank, but not too long ago, abigail took to some creative writing all on her own.  i found this lying around a few weeks back:

can you read that darling six-year-old phonetic spelling?  i am special because god made me.  you are too.  and i love god like you.  god, you are holy and powerful. 

gracious lands, that makes this momma's heart leap for joy.

a couple of nights ago, abby took her notebook to bed with her and this is what i found written in it the next morning:

we used to have a cat.  her name is nala.  she kept eating chipmunks so we gave her away at the pet store.  oh by the way, nala bit me in the arm.  the sad part about this is that the next three pages were more stories about the dogs gracie, daisy, and belle that we "yoost to have". 

clearly pet-owning is not one of our spiritual gifts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the heavy, the light, and everything in between

i vividly remember how this whole blog thing got started.  josh decided we should have a way to share pics of the kids with friends and out-of-town family, so HE set up a blog (i had never even heard of a blog), and HE named it the five lewis crew, and HE wrote several posts beginning in july of 2009. 

he hasn't written since august of that year.  (which is a shame b/c i thought he was a really funny writer.)

so somehow this blog thing fell into my lap.  i decided to use it as a scrapbook of sorts of the kids and the things we all do together as a family.  i wrote about one of my finest homeschooling moments and the day abby's friend's leg fell off; i shared about how i fed my kids in the trunk at mcdonald's and how i almost became a vegan; and i posted pics that made me weepy...

and some that made me laugh out loud...

little did i know that this blog would also become a vessel through which i shared some of the most difficult and painful seasons of my life.  i'm so thankful for the sweet connections it's has allowed me to have with people around the country (and some around the world), but i realized last week that somewhere along the road of sharing the weighty parts, i lost the day-to-dayness of what i started out to do.  so with that said, i'm not dropping the meat, but i am mixing back in the fluff.  i'm going to work on being deliberate about photographing the tidbits of life with our little people and preserving those memories and stories here. 

and i can neither confirm nor deny that today's email from my mom has anything to do with it: i'll get straight to the point.  when are you going to update your blog?!?!?!?!?  hee-hee and stay tuned!  :-)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

now that my feet have finally touched the ground

i would like to go on record as saying that the events of march 10, 2011 were some of the most awe-inspiring i've ever been witness to.  our passing court (a day EARLY at that) still has no earthly explanation, which only confirms that that was truly a day of god's power and glory on display. 

i'm not sure how to properly thank all of you, the people who have become so personally invested in micah's story, for everything you've done for us through your prayers and encouragement.  in a matter of hours after posting the news, we got literally hundreds of emails, facebook messages, and calls from family, friends, and in many cases, perfect strangers who have now become perfect friends.  we learned that families and groups gathered in various states across the country to bow before the lord and to pray specifically for us to be passed miraculously through court.  three friends shared with me that they, too, woke up during the night on wednesday night with a sense of prayer urgency regarding our court case.  you prayed and god answered.  he answered mightily!  so from this momma's heart - a heart that has waited, celebrated, grieved, grown, and rejoiced - thank you so. very. much. for what all you've done for our family.  for micah.

it was physically impossible for us to respond to each and every message, but we are compiling them all into a booklet that will go in micah's baby book as part of his adoption story and as evidence of god's grace in his life.  we did want to take a minute, though, to answer some of the main questions that were asked and let you know what's up next.

1) so what happens now?
at this point, micah is legally ours but the US embassy in ethiopia is gathering some documents to finalize the adoption.  we're filling out a handful of forms, but for the most part, we're waiting. 

2) when will you travel back to get him?
hmmm...good question.  the guesstimate we have at this point is 6-8 weeks from now so we're planning to travel in may-ish (with the emphasis on ISH). 

3) where is micah?
the week before we traveled to ethiopia to appear in court, micah was moved from his orphanage to our agency's foster home for children who have adoptive families waiting to bring them home.  the facility is called acacia village, and it's a peaceful, amazing place that josh and i both fell in love with during our visits there in february.  micah is being well-loved, well-cared-for, and well-fed (as evidenced by his girth).  :-)

4) how can we continue to pray?
i'm so glad you asked!  the changes surrounding ethiopia's adoption system most dramatically affect the families waiting to get through court.  an estimate i read recently said that children could spend as many as SEVEN YEARS in their orphanages waiting for their adoptive parents to pass, and the collateral damage from these changes (such as extreme overcrowding in the orphanages and reduced adoptions because of the increased wait time) stands to have dire effects on the most defenseless of ethiopia's population.  sooo....
  • pray for the officials who are calling the shots there to have a tremendous change of heart and for the lord to bend their hearts favorably toward adoption (see proverbs 21:1). 
also affected by these changes are the families who are through court but are waiting for paperwork (such as birth certificates) to be processed.  until that's completed, the staff at the US embassy can't finish their job.
  • pray for micah's paperwork to be processed quickly and correctly so that we can bring our baby home.  this so-close-i-can-taste-it portion of the journey is proving to make us somehow both sweetly calm and sadly heartsick for our little guy.
the logistics of our expected timing could prove to be a bit tricky.  i'm shooting three weddings around the time that we think we'll probably travel, and telling a bride a couple of weeks before her wedding that i'll be out of the country is simply not an option.
  • pray that in his ever-perfect timing, the lord will send us back to ethiopia during a period that a) won't conflict with my work schedule and b) will allow me time to get back on my feet before spending 10 hours a day on my feet with a camera glued to my face.  (speaking of weddings - and just because i ADORE them - check out this engagement session i just shot for one of the aforementioned couples.)
we love you, family and friends, and we're so thankful to the lord for not only bringing us all together to pray for micah, but also for showing himself mighty and faithful in the process.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

HE'S OURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the lord kept me up praying until after 2:00 this morning. 

at 8:22 the phone rang.

our case worker, patricia, said he's yours.  

how did this happen?!?!? i cried.  our court date isn't until tomorrow.

she replied, i have no idea.

but then again, we know exactly how it happened.

"shout for joy to the lord, all the earth.  worship the lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.  know that the lord is god.  it is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  for the lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithflness continues through all generations."  
(psalm 100)

and now, after 148 days of having a son in our hearts that we couldn't introduce, we would be honored for you to meet micah.  TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

psalm 46:10

i knew it would come.  i knew i would begin to feel that gnawing sense of urgency shouting at me to do something!  it's a battle i've fought for as long as i can remember, so the only surprise here is that it took so long to show up. 

so today i popped off some emails to a couple of people tied to our case, and i pulled up JCICS's petition to ethiopia's prime minister, compared the signatures to my email address book, and sent more emails personally asking any friend or family member whose signature i didn't see to go and sign it*.

*this event in and of itself needs some talking about.  first of all, there have been over 18,000 signatures in two days and it's literally growing by the minute.  WOW!!!  and no, i did not dig through all 18,000 to find my target email audience.  there's a search feature, and i typed in each last name until i found what i needed (unfortunately, that doesn't make me sound any less desperate).  :-)  i have to say THANK YOU, though, because i was so humbled and touched by the countless times i saw the signatures of our friends and family members who are going to bat for micah and the five million other orphans who are directly affected by this decision.  serious warm and fuzzy. 

further, i started on a tazmanian-devil-type cleaning spree of our house (which is my go-to response to feeling out of control), but as i was shoveling spring clothes into drawers, winter clothes into bags, and dirty clothes into the washer, i heard truth coming from upstairs.  josh was laying on the bed with all the little people explaining to them a bit more about what's going on with our court date on friday morning local ethiopian time.  as he explained the significance of passing court, he pulled out his bible and read psalm 46:10.

be still and know that i am god.

i can't bear the thought of not passing court on friday if i didn't do every. single. thing. within my power to bring our baby home.  but at the end of the day, i have to continually confess my desire to control and then remind myself that all of my efforts are in vain if the lord's hand is not in them.

"...if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail.  but if it is from god, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against god." (acts 5:38-39)

"who can speak and have it happen if the lord has not decreed it?  is it not from the mouth of the most high that both calamities and good things come?"  (lamentations 3:37-38)

"unless the lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.  unless the lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.  in vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat - for he grants sleep to those he loves."  (psalm 127:1-2)

"in his heart a man plans his course, but the lord determines his steps."  (proverbs 16:9)

"there is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the lord."  (proverbs 21:30) the interest of updating, we got this notice from JCICS tonight:
In only 24-hours, over 11,000 concerned individuals have joined our Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children by signing our petition. We extend our thanks to all who have supported this initiative by signing the petition, distributing the campaign information and expressing your support of child protections and ethical adoption.
Today, we have continued our communication with the Ethiopian government and respectfully brought the outpouring of concern to them. We believe that there may have been positive developments and will provide further updates as information is confirmed.

praise god!!  we continue to ask that you go to the petition and spend the needed one minute to sign it.  and finally, it's now thursday morning in ethiopia, meaning we're about t-24 hours from the court hearing that will either grant us legal custody of micah or will put us into an "indefinite" waiting period before we reach that point.  we beg of you to commit this to prayer, particularly as you go to bed tomorrow night and as the lord puts it on your heart throughout the night.  

as for me, i'm going to go pray while i bake a few goodies for my amazing hubby's birthday tomorrow.  :-)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


if i'm being completely transparent here, i need to tell you that my prayer life hasn't always been the greatest.  in fact, it's probably been the most poorly trained of the spiritual disciplines in my life.  i'm easily distracted, i haven't always made time with the lord a priority, and in all honesty, i've struggled to see the correlation between prayer and god's movement at times.

do i like sharing this?  not in the least.  but it's important for me to do so in order to tell you what the lord has so graciously shown me over these past few months.

this was the picture that i posted on the night of thursday, august 12, 2010.  it was izzy, of her own accord, kneeling on the bedroom floor praying for her very sick brother, judah.

he died the next day.

now at two years old isabel had not yet been drawn to the lord or seen her need for his saving grace.  but i, as a believer, was on my face praying the exact same prayers of healing for my infant son who died hours later.  what does that say about prayer?  but more than that, what kind of god would do such a thing as take the life of a child from his praying mother?

the kind of god who would take the life of his own son to save his created children. 

"yet it was the lord's will to crush him (jesus) and cause him to suffer.  he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed."  (isaiah 53: 10, 5)

i didn't even realize it at the time, but during the previous few years, i had fallen into the trap of "comfortable christianity".  i was content to cruise along on autopilot, scarcely needing to cry out to the lord for much at all; my faith was culturally normative, and it didn't cost me too much of anything.  the problem with that is that according to jesus christ himself, that's no faith at all (matthew 16:24-25).  i haven't shared this publicly before, but realizing a disconnect of sorts, i began praying in the early summer of 2010 that god would work in my life - through whatever means necessary - to bring me to my knees and to restore the intimacy of our relationship.  and while the events that unfolded that august were not at all what i would have chosen for myself, i know for a fact that god brought them about to answer that very prayer. 

yes, i realize that might be a tough pill to swallow.  but i believe with every ounce of my being that the lord took judah's life for my good and for his glory (romans 8:28).  how could any of that be "good", you ask?  by human standards, it's not and it never could be.  the events of that august were ugly, they brought heart-wrenching pain, and out of them i walked a terrible and dark path for many months.  but the americanized or worldly version of "good" is far from the "good" that the lord desires for his people - which is being conformed to the likeness of his son (v. 29).  lord, i pray that that is taking place in my life.

"'for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the lord.  as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what i desire and achieve the purpose for which i sent it.  you will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  this will be for the lord's renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed."  (isaiah 55:8-13)

so if god's going to do what he's going to do regardless, what's the point of praying?  follow along...

there are many passages in scripture that address god's faithfulness to answer our prayers, and it's through prayer that god accomplishes the fulfillment of his will.  just in the gospel of john alone we hear that "you may ask me for anything in my name, and i will do it" (14:14), "ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  this is to my father's glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" (15:7-8), and "the father will give you whatever you ask in my name" (15:16 and 16:23).  so if we pray for something earnestly "in jesus' name", doesn't the lord promise to answer in the way we prayed for him to?

not at all.

it's not so much that as believers we're praying in jesus' name as it is we're praying with jesus' heart.  as you saw above, god's been using a long chain of events to draw me closer to him and to (prayerfully) make me more like jesus.  one of the most amazing byproducts of that transformation in a believer's life is that his heart begins to care less about immediate comfort or desire and more about matters of eternity and the glory of god.  so in reality, praying in jesus' name has nothing to do with slapping a moniker on the end of a god-chat; rather, it has everything to do with truly knowing the lord and desiring his glory.

so, do i know it's god's desire for us to pass court on friday?  no, i don't.  so then how precisely is our family praying for the end of this week?  let me back up a little in romans 8.  verse 27 tells us that "the spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with god's will."  we've got great comfort in knowing that even when our prayers feel like they're sometimes floundering around in uncertainty, the holy spirit is perfecting them before our holy god.  we may not know the eternal, perfect will of the lord, but he does.

secondly (and this has been a much harder heart-stance to adopt), we are doing this:

"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to god."  (philippians 4:6)

that little "with thanksgiving" phrase is quick to read, easy to say - but sometimes so difficult to pray.  praying with thanksgiving means that i am to praise god, even now, for how he will answer regarding our court date on friday.  if we pass, i praise him.

if we don't pass court but rather wait indefinitely to hold our son again, i praise him.  

and why do i do this?  because he's proven that he will move in sovereign ways that are ultimately for my good and for his glory.  i've seen it.  it's my life.

please understand, my friends, that this isn't something i just took upon myself to start doing.  i want my baby home.  my heart aches terribly for his presence.  but how can i walk away from the incredible working of the lord in my heart (through judah's death) and not trust in god's sovereign and perfect plan?   

"this is the confidence we have in approaching god: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  and if we know that he heard us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him."  (1 john 5:14-15)

we're praying fervently and expectantly for our court date on thursday night here and praying equally intently for god's glory everywhere.  please join us?

(also, please take one minute - i promise that's all it takes - to sign this petition to prayerfully change the course of adoptions in ethiopia.)

in the pipeline

from a voice of america article written last week:

Abigail Rupp, head of the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa says the cutback is likely to result in a drop in adoptions to the United States from last year’s 2,500 to fewer than 500. She says the biggest concern is for the estimated 1,000 children currently in the adoptions pipeline, who may be forced to wait more than a year for their cases to be considered.

"We share the government’s concerns about the vulnerabilities in the process. But certainly we have concerns about children who would be waiting longer for their adoptions to be final. That would mean they would be in an orphanage or transition home for a longer period of time," she said.

this is serious stuff, people.  as the momma of a baby who died waiting, i beg you to pray for those 1,000 children who are trapped "in the pipeline".  pray for the adoption establishment in ethiopia as well as the agencies and officials who control it. 

and please, please...pray for our son.  we expect our case to be heard again sometime friday morning (which, because ethiopia is nine hours ahead, will be sometime thursday evening/night here). 

we love you and appreciate your encouragement, notes, and most importantly, your prayers.  thank you!

Monday, March 7, 2011

we need you

i'm going to get straight to the point here.  we've been told that shy of miraculous intervention from the lord, we will not pass court on friday.  as you might have seen in various reports over the weekend, officials in ethiopia just made some drastic changes to the process of approving adoptions, and if upheld, those changes will have immediate and dire effects on adoptive families and the children who so desperately need homes. for example, it's our understanding that if our case isn't approved on friday, we enter an indefinite waiting period that has the potential to stretch into 2012.  difficult news when we thought micah would be home in birmingham this month.

these changes have been described by many as direct attacks on adoption as adoption paints such a beautiful picture of how the lord himself has adopted us into his family.  and the only way i know to fight such an attack is through a united front of prayer.  that's where we need your help...

starting tonight - even now - please join us in praying intently for these things:
  • that the hearts of the presiding officials will be softened and bent toward the children and families affected by these changes
  • that the sudden and drastic changes to the adoption procedures in ethiopia will be reversed
  • that our family and the other families we also know who are trapped by these changes will be encouraged and strengthened
  • that our attorney will feel a sense of urgency to fight for our case
  • and that through god's power and for god's glory we will pass court on friday and that micah will finally and legally be OURS.
do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to god. 
-phil. 4:6