Friday, December 28, 2007
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It was interesting to watch what Tinsae would do if she had both hands loaded and then decided to get a drink from her sippy-cup. She couldn’t manage to pick up the cup with both hands full. How would she get a drink? I watched to see what she would do. Could she figure it out? I observed as Tinsae looked from one hand to the other and back to the cup in trying to assess a solution to the situation. I could see her little computer brain working. Then she realized the solution. It would require her to put down at least one of her cookies. What a dilemma! Could she part with the contents of one hand so that she could gain something else that she needed?
I know all the moms that are reading this are thinking… “You hold the cup for her idiot. What’s wrong with your little computer brain?” I promise this only happened once.
I’m happy to report that her little problem solving skills are right on track. She successfully negotiated the sippy-cup challenge and quenched her thirst. I guess I should have known her problem solving skills were on track after seeing her solve the Oreo cookie puzzle (see 12/8/07 post).
Let’s see… what else is there to tell you about her food antics. Oh yeah, she has the hearing of a robin hunting for a worm. Maybe she has a super power. I don’t know what to call it but she has the amazing ability to hear a bag crinkle across the room while sound asleep. To her, a crinkling bag only means one thing…food. We have tried to show her that this is not always case. One morning I was opening up a bag of coffee and she wanted to eat whatever was in the bag. I let her smell inside the bag but she was not deterred. I let her put her hand inside the bag and she tasted a bit of the coffee that stuck to her fingers… she wanted more. She truly is Ethiopian. Did you know that Ethiopians love to eat/drink their coffee with butter and salt in it instead of cream and sugar? How different is that?
The other day I was licking and sealing a stack of envelopes. I made the mistake of doing it in front of Tinsae. She thought the envelopes were something to eat. Tinsae thought she was missing out on something and wanted me to share. Don’t worry, I didn’t let her sample any envelopes.
But like I said, Tinsae is all about food…and for good reason given her life marked by disease and malnutrition. She regards food as something special like a gift. Her whole countenance lights up with smiles and laughs. She delights in every meal and some meals can last up to 2 hours. Maybe for her, every meal is a celebration of life.
Why am I so fascinated by watching her eat? Maybe it is because she delights so much in it. I’m sure I would delight and savor my food just as much if I was similarly deprived.
Is there a connection between the food for our bodies and food for our souls? We were created as both physical and spiritual beings. I believe God created food and our physical cravings to help us to understand that our souls need very similar nourishment. Scripture is ‘peppered’ (pun intended) with soul food. His Word encourages us to “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Actually God commands us to eat at His table. He wants us to “…feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). Jesus also encouraged us to eat by reminding us that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). He used the images of food to a people who did not always know when they would eat again.
Do you feed on His faithfulness? Do you regard God’s Word as a gift? Is every meal in His Word a celebration of eternal life? It seems that I try to satisfy my soul with a spiritual Happy Meal instead of the buffet of His faithfulness. I wish I had the same zeal for spiritual food as Tinsae does for the McDonald’s menu. Eating from God’s table is for my benefit! It is life giving sustenance that I must have. Otherwise, I will walk through life spiritually malnourished. Is that really living?
If only I could empty my hands of this world, I may be able to drink deeply from the endless sippy-cup that God has provided me… at least that’s what my little computer brain tells me. Can I empty my hands of this world? Or is that something God must help me with? Do I really want to hold onto the crumbs of this world when God wants me to experience the feast of His Word?
It’s funny how God can even use the image of a small child to help remind me of the true joys of eating. Has God used Tinsae in your life today? I pray that you too will feast regularly on God’s Word.
His love…is more than we can ever begin to imagine,
Bill & Michelle
P.S. Enjoy the eating video below.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Bill & Michelle
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Tinsae will not be coming home today either. Each day I have been hoping and telling the children that Tinsae may be coming home. I don't think they believe me anymore. Today is day number 8 at the hospital. She has only been 'home' for 4 days. For all she knows, the hospital is her new home.
She must think we are kind of like gypsies. Can you imagine her little brain trying to process all of this? We take her from the orphanage and then go live for two weeks at someplace in Ethiopia called the Hilton. Then we go live for a day in this long narrow room with the uncomfortable seats that float in the sky. Then we go to some place with 4 other little kids and a dog for 4 days. Then we go to this place called a hospital for 8 days where everybody wears these masks and she is confined to this little room. She must think we are crazy.
Originally, we were hoping to go home this past Sunday but the chest x-rays were not conclusive on the condition of her lungs. It was possible that she either had a form of pneumonia or tuberculosis. So we were waiting for a CT scan scheduled for Monday.
On Monday, the scan indicated with fairly good certainty that she has miliary tuberculosis (TB). Perhaps the only good thing about this form of TB is that it is not contagious. So she finally was taken off of isolation and other precautionary measures.
The cure for TB in children is a regimen of 3 meds for 9 months. Additionally, approximately 25% of people with this form of TB also have meningitis. So on Tuesday, the doctors wanted to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis. Miliary TB can also spread to other organs so she had several other tests and examinations performed on Tuesday as well. All the tests performed on Tuesday came back negative.
Wednesday was a recovery day for Tinsae and a health strategy planning day for the doctors. Today, Thursday, another exam is going to be performed to check her lungs and get a fluid specimen to identify the strain of TB and also check for parasites and fungus. Fungus in the lungs??
Again, her doctors were amazed that the TB hadn't killed her especially in light of her compromised immunity with the HIV. Some may think she's a pretty good fighter for a 15 pounder. But we know who’s in her corner. We know that she is invincible until the moment God wants to take her home. And for some reason, God is letting her fight another round. Clearly God's purposes for her here have not been completed. It makes us wonder even more what all God has in store for her.
I’ve also been thinking about the whole concept of ‘home’ lately for Tinsae. Home for Tinsae has not been a place. Home for her has been in the presence of Michelle and me. Home for her has been in the shelter of our love. Sometimes Tinsae may not feel like we love her because to her it seems like we are not protecting her from all the procedures and needle sticks that cause her pain. This short term pain is for her long term gain. Her ability to understand that this kind of pain is for her own good is years away.
Yesterday in Psalm 90 and then again in Psalm 91 the word ‘dwelling’ caught my attention.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Ps 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." Ps 91:1-2
Where do I dwell? Where do I rest? Where do I call my home? Do I find my rest and security in the love and protection of my heavenly Father…whatever my situation? Do I understand that God's 'short term' pain is for my long term gain?
In an earlier post I referred to Tinsae as little Miss Drama Queen. I didn’t mean to make light of her reaction to all the unfamiliar things that surround her. But, if she is little Miss Drama Queen, then I am big Mr. Drama King. You see, I know that God loves me and that He is sovereign and in control of every aspect of my life. I know that intellectually. I know that in my head, but do I know it in my heart?
You can see from some of my earlier posts that I’ve had difficulty trusting God in and through the pain or difficult times in my life. I do not walk too well in the dark… I tend to revert to crawling on all fours. I’d rather crawl by sight than walk by faith. Spiritually speaking, I may not be much older than Tinsae’s physical age. I have come to learn that I should not measure my spiritual maturity in years or how much I know from God’s word. Perhaps a better indicator of my spiritual maturity should be measured by how much I trust in God and in how much I apply what I know of God’s Word in my life. That would be a better measure of the strength of my relationship with Him. It would then come as no surprise that I think it is the end of the world when I suffer from spiritual paper cuts.
In an earlier post I mentioned that God led me to a point during our trip to Ethiopia where I think I found peace with some of my trust issues with God. I still owe you that account.
Have you struggled in your walk of faith like me? Have you ever found yourself crawling on all fours? Have you learned to persevere through the spiritual paper cuts? I'd like to encourage you today with these two passages dealing with pain or grief:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
...And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5: 2-5
Tinsae may not yet know where her physical home is. We hope and pray that during and beyond this time of fear and pain that she will learn to trust in our love and ultimately this will help her to learn in the years to come to trust in the love of her heavenly Father. Our true home is not of this world. Her home and ours is in His presence... if only we could imagine.
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
...Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:1-23
Thanks for your notes of encouragement and prayers!
His love for us is more than we can ever begin to imagine,
Bill & Michelle
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
One more post for today....
Do you remember the couple we met in the airport at the beginning of our trip to Ethiopia that I mentioned in our first post? You know the crazy... 'reckless abandon' couple who took big steps of faith for the Lord? You really need to read their journey. Please go meet Jerry and Eileen Mestas and the rest of their family at their blog site. Their stories (His stories) will bless your heart.
Bill & Michelle
Like her birth mother, Tinsae is a fighter. Her mother's immunity was weakened by HIV and battled several infections for many months and sought treatment as she could afford. However, another infection took hold and she checked herself into a hospital with Tinsae in her arms. The next day she died. A form of meningitus took her life. Tinsae was there beside her mother when she died.
The hospital cared for Tinsae for a month in hopes that a relative would come to visit the mother or see what happened to her. If someone came, the hospital could then find out more information about Tinsae's mother and determine if a relative was available to claim Tinsae. No one ever came to visit. No one ever came to claim Tinsae. After a month, the hospital then declared Tinsae to be abandoned and turned her over to the police who then turned her over to an orphanage.
Estimates indicate there are over 4 million orphans in Ethiopia. There are not enough orphanages to take care of the lost children of Ethiopia. Many dying mothers are turned away from orphanages because they are full. Many children are found next to dying or dead parents with no one to take care of them except for maybe an older sibling. Some children have been left outside the gates of orphanages. We believe Tinsae's mother knew that Tinsae's only chance to get into an orphanage and receive care was if she died in a hospital. We believe Tinsae's mother did not go to the hospital to save herself but to save Tinsae. The last act of Tinsae's mother was one of love for her baby.
Just think... before all this took place, God was already preparing and calling us to a far away land to a child that we would later come to know as Praise Tinsae McConomy (see details of our calling in an earlier post http://hisloveforus.blogspot.com/2007/12/wednesday-112807-our-calling-to-adopt.html).
God's love for us has called us to love in a very similar way. You see, Michelle and I have been adopted... by God. God uses the same language in scripture to describe what He has done for us. God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die and pay the penalty for our sins. We were slaves to sin and death. His Son's death was the payment or ransom for our souls and He adopted us as His children. We are no longer orphans of this world but we are heirs of the King. The Apostle Paul elaborates on the adoption theme in the passage below:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus...for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are ...heirs according to the promise. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. Ephesian 3:26 - 4:7 NKJV
Have you been adopted by God? Do you know for sure that you are one of His children? Many people assume that just because they know about Jesus, they have a relationship with God. If you wonder or question if you are truly one of God's children and would like to hear more about this subject, please send me an email to CaughtByGrace@comcast.net. I'd love to share more.
Yesterday when we saw the infectious disease specialist at AI, he said that he believed that Tinsae would not have lived much longer if she had stayed in Ethiopia. But he has great hopes that she will not only survive but thrive on her new medicine. Yesterday she was started on 3 anti retroviral medications to treat the HIV. She is also on two antibiotics. One is for preventative measures and the other is to treat borderline pneumonia. She is also taking iron supplements because she is anemic. Her hemoglobin is 6.0 and if it drops to 5.9 she will be admitted to the hospital for additional care and a blood transfusion. In addition, the HIV medications can also cause the hemoglobin to drop.
We have an appointment again at the hospital tomorrow (Thursday) at 10am. At that time her hemoglobin will be retested and a second series of chest x-rays will be taken to check on the pneumonia. It is possible she may need to be admitted to the hospital based on the outcome of Thursday's battery of tests.
That's all for now.
His love for us... is more than we can ever begin to imagine,
Bill & Michelle
Check out the picture below of Tinsae bundled up and on her way to the hospital!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
The fever still comes and goes and she is fairly congested. This morning the fever was the highest since getting the Typhus shots (103.7 F). We see the doctor today. We'll keep you posted on her progress. I've added more pictures to the slide show and hope to add some more in the next couple of days.
Bill & Michelle
Monday, December 3, 2007
Love Bill & Michelle
We would have come home sooner if we could. Part of the struggle to come home sooner involved getting Tinsae a visa. Normally a visa takes only two days to process by the embassy in Ethiopia. However, even though she is our daughter, her visa was automatically denied because of her HIV condition.
We knew this in advance and we prepared the appropriate waiver document. The difficulty came in getting the waiver processed through the proper channels. Once we submitted the waiver it would have to go to the CDC in Atlanta for review and approval, back to the embassy in Ethiopia, then on to a central processing point in Africa (Nairobi, Kenya) and then back to the Ethiopian embassy.
We had our embassy appointment last Wednesday at about 4pm local time. The people at the CDC were prepped to receive our document on Wednesday morning US Eastern time. But after 10am ET they would be out of the office and would not return until after the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday. We were racing time. When I left the embassy on Wednesday afternoon they said they were going to fax our documents to the CDC immediately to meet the CDC closing deadline of 10am Wednesday morning. I was praying that the documents would be received in time. However, they were not.
The woman at the CDC that handles the HIV waiver process kindly emailed me at 10am stating that she did not receive the documents from the embassy and she would be leaving on holiday. Because I didn't have internet access, I did not receive this information until Thursday evening. I was very disappointed and frustrated. We basically lost 4 days because of the time difference when the CDC returned to the office on Monday morning. Michelle and I planned for this delay but it would really be extremely tight getting the visa issued by our flight that is planned on Friday the 30th.
Are you following all of this? I know this might be too much info for some.
Last Friday was a tough day of waiting....waiting for Monday. I worried about Tinsae's health and I worried about our finances (to be honest, maybe not in that order). What if we didn't get the visa until the week of the Dec 3rd?
This journey has been incredibly introspective. It has been quite a spiritual journey for me. It has been a journey for me in taking steps to trust God...over the last two years. I shared with you in earlier posts and in yesterday's Adoption Journey Story how I had trust-in-God issues. It is incredibly revealing to see how Tinsae's trust issues are very similar to my trust-in-God issues. I'm faith-less but God is always faithful.
If you allow me in subsequent posts, I'd like to share some of those struggles. There are some specific verses of scripture that many regard as great promises of God, but in my mind they offered me little comfort... until God broke me... not with an iron fist but with tender compassion and love.
Last night I reached a point with God that I would be content to stay in Africa as long as He wanted me here. Tinsae's health is in His hands. Our finances are His finances. God is in control. Whatever He chooses to do, I need to be able to praise Him for whatever outcome. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. It is easy to praise the Lord when things turn out the way I want them to, but could I praise Him when they don't turn out my way? Late last night I reached that peace.
Tinsae has a long road ahead of her. Physically, the battle with HIV, is very treatable and promising and she will be receiving medication and all the best care the week we return to Delaware. However, her emotional health, I think will be her greater struggle. We can see how her trust issues and related anger are all bottled up inside of her. Clenched fists are pretty typical body language for her. Today she started to cry a lot over little things. She showed very little emotion over anything prior to this unless she was getting a shot. We thought this was a good sign. She was showing us how she was feeling.
Some of it we think may be related to her grieving. She is letting out that bottled up emotion. For our part, we are there when she closes her eyes and we are there when she opens them. We just need to keep showing her consistent and reliable love that she can come to trust as much as possible. We can't wait until she meets her brothers and sister. They too will be able to show her love she has never seen before.
Well.... today at 5:20 we got a call that Tinsae's visa will be ready at 10am tomorrow (Friday) morning. Great news! Praise the Lord! I wish I would have trusted God sooner...like last week. :)
It looks like we will be catching our flight on time. We leave Friday night, the 30th, at 10pm. We will travel for about 15 hours and arrive on Saturday morning at the Dulles International Airport in Washington D.C. about 7:30am.
Thanks for your prayers!
I would like to share two songs that I listened to over and over this week. I need to hear these songs. These songs were medicine to my soul. If you struggle anything like me in trusting God, I hope and pray these songs will speak to your heart. Listen carefully to the words! They will be a blessing to you.
God Loves Us...more than we can ever begin to imagine.
Love Bill & Michelle.
We want to share this additional detail behind our adoption story. We felt that we needed to share this with you sooner rather than later.
Please don't overlook the P.S. section at the end.
With love and appreciation,
Bill & Michelle
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
We wanted to share the story of our adoption journey with you and a little more of the detail behind the calling to adopt. With all journeys there is a beginning. However, the beginning of our journey is a little bit unusual. It starts with a name.
I have always attached great significance to names, especially those of my children. Each one has a name that is rich in meaning to Michelle and me. Names are important.
Take my name. William means "protector" or "defender." As a believer with a military background as an Army Ranger, I have contemplated this name repeatedly through life's physical and spiritual battles. I want to protect my family physically but I am especially interested in protecting their minds and hearts spiritually. When I fail them, sometimes I think of myself as a "pretender" rather than a "defender."
There is great significance in a name.
One Sunday morning in August of 2006, I received a Word from the Lord. Relax, I'm not going to get all weird on you. When I say that I received a Word from the Lord, I don't mean some great truth that came to me in a flash of blinding light to be delivered to others for their edification. I mean that the Lord gave me exactly one Word.
On that Sunday morning I was reading in Isaiah, and this Word, one that I might have ignored on other mornings kept surfacing in the Scriptures. My reading took me also to the Psalms, where the Word kept popping up here and there in the text. I could feel God drawing my attention to the Word.
When I got to church that Sunday morning my day transitioned from the curious to the bizarre. Song after song after song, that Word kept ringing out. Now it was stalking me.
As others continued singing, I asked "Lord, what are you saying to me?" Immediately, an image flashed into my mind. It was me holding up a tiny black child. We were smiling and laughing at each other.
I asked, "Lord, who is that?"
He replied over the singing, "Your daughter."
I asked, "What is her name?"
He replied - you guessed it - with that Word. Forgive me for keeping you in suspense regarding this one Word; I will reveal it shortly - because her name means everything to me.
As the Lord spoke to me, my legs became weak and I left everyone else standing while I sat. I knew God had just spoken to me. I knew that voice. I heard His voice like this only a handful of times before. It was the same voice that told me on the way to the hospital that my first son Joshua had died in Michelle's womb and would be stillborn. It was the same voice that spoke to me in the delivery room when complications arose during the birth of my twin sons. It was the same voice that spoke to me when I almost lost Michelle to a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. It was the same voice that spoke to me several weeks before we found out that one of the twins, Jacob, had cancer. And again it was that same voice that I heard during the dark months of Jacob’s treatment.
I knew this Voice. But this time, God's voice brought a message of a daughter who was a complete stranger to me, known only for an instant in an image God brought to mind.
Should I share this with Michelle?
No way! You see, I married Mrs. Baby Woman… some call her the Baby Whisperer. She has yet to meet a baby she could not love and could not pacify. Her whole life from an early age has been marked by caring for babies, including our wonderful four children, various foster babies, and a continuous host of others through the years.
Michelle never cared how she got a baby or where it came from just as long as she had one to care for. Could I trust her with the vision God had given me? I didn’t think so. I determined that, for the time being, the events of that Sunday morning would be shared only by me, God, and the tiny black child who's eyes sparkled back at me as she laughed in my arms.
The truth is, caring for babies has always been on Michelle’s radar screen but she has never pressured me. I felt God had been preparing me over the last few years to lead our family into a different ministry opportunity. Michelle and I have talked about adoption plenty of times, but I didn’t think where God was leading us had anything to do with adoption. Adoption was Michelle’s vision and related to the gifts God has given her. What role could I play and how could I use the gifts God has given me in the adoption arena? Isn’t the vision supposed to come from the man of the family? Isn’t God supposed to speak through me first?
But Michelle is wise and Godly enough to know that if it was God's will for us to adopt, God would have to start by changing my heart.
I kept my vision secret for about three months waiting for God to say more. Then one night Michelle shared with me a story she had come across about a woman who had somehow stumbled into a secluded room in an orphanage she had been visiting. In that room she saw something that gripped her heart. She found a particular group of babies that were getting almost no care whatsoever.
You see, this group of babies had no hope of getting adopted because they were very sick. No one wanted them. Written on the back of each of these tiny babies in large red print was the letter H and a plus (+) sign. You know what that means.
These little babies were HIV positive and they were basically being left isolated in a place where they were expected to die. No access to medications, virtually no comfort or love. These precious little ones would spend what little they had of their lives in this room, waiting… waiting to die.
As Michelle told me this woman's story, I felt myself screaming inside. Who is going to love those babies? Someone has to love those babies. Somebody just has to do something.
Then I heard His voice again. He said, “You.”
As I stated earlier names mean so much. God seemingly made my next mission clear to me. I, William, as a protector was being called to defend, to love and to help, an adopted international child with HIV. But would God confirm this call through Michelle?
Some nights later, Michelle was busy with her favorite pastime - surfing adoption web sites on the internet. She related to me that a new country was becoming increasingly open to adoption - Ethiopia. Immediately the picture of the tiny black girl laughing in my arms came to mind.
I said, “Oh really.”
Michelle further explained that this country had one of the highest populations of orphans in the world because of the ravaging effects of AIDS. Many of the children born to AIDS victims had, themselves, contracted HIV from the parents.
I said again, “Oh really.”
There was no more running from God’s will or keeping this a secret from Michelle any longer. The flood gates opened and I unleashed the full story to Michelle of what God had been showing me from beginning to end. Her reaction surprised me. Now it was her turn.
She said, “Oh really.”
Calmly she reminded me about the time in early spring of 2006 when she approached me with the idea of doing foster care for babies with HIV. It was during this time that God put it in her heart to adopt an HIV child. Her plan was to introduce the idea of HIV adoption gradually by starting with foster care for HIV positive infants.
I thought that was a crazy idea then. Armed with the best information urban legend had to offer, I was confident that the risk of HIV disease transmission was just too great to subject our children to, and to submit other children to.
I still had many fears and apprehensions, but with God's will now confirmed through Michelle, I knew that I could not allow my fears to stop us from taking some initial steps. You see, we sat under the preaching of a wise ‘old’ pastor who would say over and over again through the years, "God hits a moving target."
We needed to get moving.
Our adoption paperwork was completed in July 2007 and we began our wait for a referral. None came. Michelle posted a question to the members of a widely subscribed HIV+ adoption forum. She asked if anyone knew of any waiting HIV+ children from Ethiopia who were available for adoption.
Michelle received exactly four unposted, private email replies from forum subscribers. All four responses, sent without knowledge of the others, talked about the very same little girl. One woman who knew Michelle from the online forum mentioned that she even thought of Michelle while holding the child in Ethiopia but had ‘forgotten’ all about it until Michelle posted her question.
Did I mention that names are important?
This little baby girl's name is Tinsae. After doing some research we discovered that Tinsae means “Resurrection." This little girl, now our little girl will keep her given name as her middle name. You see God gave me the first name already.
It was the Word that stalked me, that showed up all over Scripture and all throughout our songs on that Sunday morning when God first showed me holding little Tinsae in my arms as we laughed. That Word is "Praise." Our new daughter's name is Praise Tinsae McConomy. Her name forms a sentence. Actually it is a command to Michelle and me. Praise the Resurrection McConomy. What could be more meaningful to a HIV+ baby than to praise the resurrection that restores life?
What could be more meaningful to all of us?
Jesus Christ, the "Name above all names" has not only ordained Praise from the lips of infants, He has built it into the very name of His gift to us, our child Praise Tinsae McConomy - an HIV+ child with a certain future, one of everlasting life in the loving arms of her Savior, Jesus Christ.
Michelle and I struggled with the timing of sharing with you Tinsae’s HIV+ status. Ultimately, God impressed upon us that we needed to share this with you because you are part of our family and we need to treat you as such. We are also going to need your prayers in the final leg of our adoption journey as we work to bring Tinsae home.
This November 5th, the adoption was finalized and Praise became our daughter. We will be leaving for Ethiopia on Sunday, November 18th to get Praise and will be gone for about two weeks. We praise Jesus for everything that she is - her name means everything to us.
Thank you for allowing us to share our story with you, our family.
Praise the Resurrection.
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26
If you have read this and think we are wonderful people, I have failed in communicating this chapter of our journey with you. This is not about us. This is not about Tinsae. This is about the amazing grace and love of our God. The journey to adopt Tinsae is just a subplot of His amazing love and the kinds of things God will do to get one of His children. By faith and by force God will use us to gather His children. If you have any doubts about the efforts God will use to gather his children, please read Isaiah chapter 43 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isa%2043&version=31).
At what expense has God paid to rescue you? He gave up the most valuable thing He had to offer. He gave us Himself. He laid down His life for us. He sacrificed His Son to pay the penalty for my sin and for yours. This is the greatest love story ever told and He’s retelling it in each of our lives. Do you have a love relationship with Jesus? If you do, I rejoice. If you question or wonder if you really do, ask Him. Ask Jesus to show you the love He has for you and ask Him to become the Lord of you life and in ‘all’ areas of your life.
We will be calling her by her given name, Tinsae, and slowly transition it to Praise over a period of time. We just didn’t want you to be confused by us not calling her Praise right away.
Below are some links to references that we found helpful for information about HIV and you may find these references helpful as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
His love for us is…more than we can ever begin to imagine,
Bill & Michelle
Tinsae's fevor has persisted in spite of the antibiotic. We went to the clinic today (another interesting experience) and saw a doctor and she had some blood tests done. Tinsae has typhus fever. She has to get injections over the next 5 days to treat it. She will come off the antibiotic. Hopefully this will turn things around for her.
We had a couple of break throughs with Tinsae on Saturday, Sunday and today. On Saturday somebody went to take Tinsae from Michelle's arms and Tinsae began to cry. This reaction showed us that she is starting to form an attachment to us. On Sunday she let me hold her hand without pulling away...Tinsae that is... not Michelle (I thought I should clarify that). Today, I was playing with her on the bed and I think she tried to laugh a little bit. We'll take that!
Last night we were having dinner with some missionaries and one of them said the name of their Ethiopian friend and Tinsae quickly turned her head to the lady speaking. Michelle made the connection. The lady's friend had the same name as Tinsae's mom. Tinsae recognized her mother's name! She remembers.
Friday was a rough day for me (Black Friday). I'll have to share it with you another time. Thank you all for your prayers. We definitely feel lifted up. Thank you Marker House Church for the inspirational words of encouragement and scripture. We look forward to reading one each day.
A friend sent some scripture that he was praying for us and we wanted to share it also with you. Replace Tinsae's name with yours and our situation with your situation. God loves to hear His word spoken back to Him. Know He hears you.
For this reason, since the day we heard about
Below is a link to a song that I've been singing many times the last few days. I've been resting in the shadow of His cross. I hope you will find rest here too. I love the lyrics to this song!
He loves you....more than you can ever begin to imagine
Love Bill & Michelle
The power supply to our laptop is dead. The hotel "IT person" came by with a electrical current tester and confirmed there was no juice flowing through it. I couldn't find a power supply here in Ethiopia - it would have to be ordered at great expense... so I may not be able to send out too many updates. It is very frustrating being without email capability because we have a lot to share but no time. I'm borrowing another computer from some friends for 15 minutes - just enough time to share a few words about Tinsae...
Remember when we first got Tinsae she was quiet and somewhat sad. You could see the hurt on her face - Michelle and I were prepared for this and know it will take ongoing and consistent love to help her in her grief. We want to tell her that she can count on our love.
We can't tell if she is smiling but she seems to be trying. We don't think she really understands the emotion of being happy or smiling. She does make noises like a little bird especially when she sees food. We definitely noticed at times she does seem less sad. She definitely has trust issues.... just like her daddy. She holds onto food (cookie or cracker) all day in her little hands. Food is her security.... just like her daddy. It will take some time for her.
We asked our guide what the word for 'Praise' (Tinsae's new first name) is in Ethiopian. The word they use to translate Praise is "Thanksgiving." God has a sense of humor. Who would have thought that we would be here giving Thanksgiving for our little 'Praise'... Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving.
...more than we can ever begin to imagine
We love all of you,
Bill & Michelle
We also spent some time talking with Tinsae’s main caregiver, Sister Veronica. She said that Tinsae does not know who she can trust. Everyone that she has trusted and loved has been taken away from her… and today will be no exception as we will have to take Tinsae from the woman who has loved her most since her mother died. Sister Veronica also observed that Tinsae is afraid that she’s going to be hurt again and that she quickly withdraws around strangers. The Sister wasn't trying to be mean or anything, she just wanted to make sure we knew of Tinsae's trauma. Sister Veronica also remarked that it is not too often that Tinsae has even shared a smile with her…but we rejoice that she has. And we know someday she will smile with us. But most importantly…someday she will also know true Joy as we share with her the love of her heavenly Father. Also, I hold on to the vision that God gave me over a year ago of me holding up an unknown black child filled with laughter and how he told me that she would be my daughter (but that's another story).
I didn’t know it at the time but God helped prepare us for today in our quiet time with Him this morning. I read to Michelle at breakfast the following ‘random’ passage:
Psalm 126: 1-6
When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negev. Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.
We also read from Psalm 135 and 136. What incredible passages of praise and thanksgiving! Google them to see. God has a history with us! It is a history of faithfulness, a history of delivering us, and a history of carrying us during our pain. But just like His pain that He endured for us on the cross, our pain is not without purpose. Sometimes God reveals the purpose behind the pain but there are other times that some of the treasures of darkness will not be revealed on this side of eternity. I need to just wait and trust Him. Whatever situation God has you in right now, please join me to just wait and trust Him. Little Tinsae, my child…just wait and trust Him.
Later in our visit at the orphanage we visited the room where Tinsae spent with her caregiver. Michelle and I were alone with Sister Veronica and we got a chance to talk more with her. Sister Veronica began to probe a ‘little’ into our lives. She began asking questions about our relationship. Bottom line: She wanted to know that Tinsae would not be hurt again by Michelle and me and that Tinsae wouldn't lose us in divorce. Sister Veronica wanted to know that our marriage relationship was secure. We gave her the only guarantee we knew. We shared with her our faith in Christ as our source of joy and meaning in life and that our relationship with each other was a reflection of our relationship with Him. Our source of unity and strength in marriage rested in Christ. She became extremely excited and happy by this. She shared with us how she had prayed from the very first day she received Tinsae that God would send parents to love her that also loved Him.
I marveled at the Sister Veronica’s love for Tinsae that she would ask such direct questions. It was then we realized how much the caregiver ‘really’ loved Tinsae. Now it was our turn to rejoice. We shared with her that now God allowed us to see the answer to one of our very first prayers in our adoption journey through her. We prayed that God would send someone to love and care for our unknown daughter in Ethiopia. But God did more than we asked for… He sent someone to our daughter who also loved Him!
God loves us more than we can ever begin to imagine.
We had a little of a scare this afternoon after leaving the orphanage. Tinsae became fairly lethargic and warm. Michelle took her temperature and it was about 103F. The orphanage had a nurse who examined her and said Tinsae had a swollen throat. She gave her some medicine and also wrote a prescription for amoxicillin. Tinsae responded extremely quickly. It’s after 2am here and Michelle and Tinsae are still sleeping soundly.
Now for details…Michelle is going to have to fill in the gaps for the things I overlook. Tinsae is very alert and watches everything. She is a little bigger than Michelle thought but still very undersized for her documented age (don’t even ask me about clothing sizes… Michelle knows how to communicate in that language). She can’t be 2 yrs old. Michelle guesses that based on her observations so far… maybe 13-16 months old. She is very thin. She doesn’t talk. She’s a good eater.
Also, I’m not saying this because I’m a proud father because I never thought any of my other children were cute until much later…. But Tinsae is strikingly beautiful. Her eyelashes are unbelievably long and curly. (Sorry Jon, Jake, Katie, and Nathan…. You guys looked like a cross between ET, Yoda, and Gollum when I first saw you. It took some time for you guys to cuten up!)
Pictures coming soon.
Bill & Michelle
Tomorrow morning we go to the orphanage where Tinsae is staying and meet her…and take over complete responsibility and care for her. There is no transition period for her. We leave the orphanage and she comes with us. Keep her emotional stability and peace in your prayers. We won’t be needing Starbucks tomorrow either with all the adrenaline pumping and excitement. However, it will be the answer to your prayers from our heavenly Father that will sustain us. You have prayed that God would be present with our child from the very beginning of this adoption journey. When we leave the orphanage, He comes with us.
…more than we can ever begin to imagine.
Bill & Michelle.
Thanks so much to so many of you that have helped get us to this point in our adoption journey. People from my work, people helping Michelle at home, the baby shower…what an incredible encouragement.
Our time with Michael and Sandra Watson at their home outside Washington, D.C. was excellent on Saturday night. They were such an encouragement. We talked almost to 1am. But we didn’t have any problems waking up and getting to the airport today. The adrenaline and excitement about the trip was far more effective in waking us up to action than any morning beverage from Starbucks.
I heard a Focus on the Family program on adoption on Saturday afternoon after Michelle’s baby shower. The last part of the program featured some recorded messages by Crown Financial Ministries from callers who shared about how God had provided the money to adopt. I heard a really amazing story from one woman of how God had provided the money for them to adopt 3 children. The woman said they were leaving next month to pick up their children from Ethiopia! I told Michelle about the story on the drive down to Washington. This too was encouraging.
We met a couple at the gate of the airport this morning who are also on their way to adopt from Ethiopia. They are Christians and without even knowing if we were Christians, they began to boldly share their incredible journey of faith and God’s hand in their lives. The adoption journey was just the most recent chapter of their journey. It was amazing (I hope I don’t overuse this word) to see just the small pieces of their journey that God has revealed to them about what He is doing in, through and around their lives to glorify Himself. God directed them to take unbelievable steps of faith. If you think I’m weird about any aspect of my faith….you don’t know weird (I’m also known to be weird for other things). This couple is pycho! These guys are insane by the world’s standards for taking ‘crazy’ steps of faith based on what God told them to do.
While they were sharing God’s story in their lives, I kept thinking about the example that the Apostle Paul encouraged us to follow by being a fool for Christ. Paul was considered a fool because He heard God and obeyed…no matter what the cost…even at the risk of losing his life on many occasions. I had a hard time processing the kind of faith this couple had. I felt God was speaking to me while they were sharing. He was saying, “Do you trust Me?” The couple would tell another story and then I would hear God say, “Do you ‘really’ trust Me?”
These people heard God and followed Him with ‘reckless abandon.’ The funny thing about ‘reckless abandon’ is that it only looks like reckless abandon from our perspective or the world’s perspective. From God’s perspective, ‘reckless abandon’ is seen by Him as us loving Him. From God’s perspective, reckless abandon is seen as being in peace and perfect harmony with His plan. From God’s perspective, reckless abandon is seen as us trusting and obeying Him. Is God calling me to trust Him in far greater ways?
As I listened to this couple continue to share one part of their adoption story, it seemed all too familiar to me. I heard it somewhere before. Finally, I had to interrupt and then I finished the rest of their story. They were a ‘little’ surprised. You see, it was their story I heard on the radio program, Focus on the Family, just the day before. They didn’t even know that some of their story was picked up by Focus on the Family. She called her testimony into Crown Financial Ministries over a month ago. I just so happened to catch the last 10 minutes of the program that also contained her recorded message. God used this couple to also encourage us.
Did I mention that the subplot to the first movie on the plane was about adoption? It's too funny how God has surrounded Michelle and me with plots and subplots of adoption. But on a much grander scale isn't it exciting to see how God has subplots to His story in all of our lives. The main story is all about His Son. The subplot is about how the Gospel or ‘good news’ can save us and radically change my life and yours. God’s love for me and for you is more than we can ever begin to imagine.
As I close my reflections on our first day of travel, God’s earlier question still resonates in my heart… “Do you trust Me?” I hope you too will consider that question today as you continue in your journey with Christ.
...more than we can ever begin to imagine
Bill & Michelle