Thursday, January 23, 2014

What do earrings have to do with adoption?

I love the interaction I get with Nazeret on the way to school in the mornings.

This morning she was holding a pair of earrings in her hand as she got in the car.

 Noonday Collection Eternity Earrings -- India

Nazeret is so proud of her earrings that empower the poor.  She wanted to wear them to school even though we talked about some safety concerns due to the size of the earrings.  We agreed that she could wear them while in the classroom and remove them before she went to some of the more active parts of her day.

She struggled for a little while to get the post through the hole.  I pulled the car over so that I could help her.

As I gently guided the earrings through, I was reminded of a scrawny seven year old girl that wanted her ears pierced so bad that she was willing to fight for it every day.

Nazeret came home at age seven and didn't speak any English.  I'm guessing that she thought earrings were about the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.  She could see that I had my ears pierced and her two new sisters did too.  I think she expected to get her ears pierced the day she landed in America.

Once home, she saw the earrings her sisters had accumulated through the years as a sign that they were loved....and she wasn't.  If only I could communicate with her.  Of course I loved her. I wanted to give her the desire of her heart, but there were so many issues.  I couldn't make her understand that it was going to hurt and that the earrings couldn't come out for a minimum of six weeks.  She would have to clean and turn them.  I couldn't even take her into a mall.  She HATED the car and wouldn't wear her seat belt. 

We needed time to communicate and grow to a place of understanding.  I wasn't opposed.  I desperately wanted to give this to her....just not yet!

BAM! Right in the middle of my little flashback, God said "Exactly."

You see, I've been just like Nazeret.  I know God's heart for adoption.  I just can't understand why he is withholding this from me.  Our family has carried the picture of a little boy with a name for six months.  We prayed for him.  We dreamed of how he would fit into our family.  We made it through some tough ups and downs.  Then, one day we received word that he would not become a part of our family.  The reasons are complicated, but we could not adopt him after all.

I was crushed and I was angry with God. Yes, I even questioned his love for me.  I've been on an eight week journey of trading my plan for God's.

He isn't saying "No".  He's just saying "Not yet, there's more that you don't understand."
Just like Nazeret, when the time is right, I'll get my ears pierced bring my son home!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tesfa - Hope - Esperanza

Webster's definition of hope: to desire with expectation of obtainment.

Holman Bible Dictionary definition of hope: Biblical hope is the anticipation of a favorable outcome under God's guidance.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen... Hebrews 11:1

So faith and hope are intertwined.

"The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith."
 --John Calvin

Sometimes I'm a lot like Peter! I can see Jesus; my eyes are on him.  He tells me to come to him out on the water.  I jump out of that boat with little or no hesitation.  Things are good.  I feel closer to Jesus than I ever have.  I may even take a second to wonder why more people haven't jumped out of the boat with me.  Then it happens....I start looking around at my circumstances instead of Jesus and I start to lose hope. My faith is shaken.

When we started this adoption (our second one), God had me back in the book of Joshua. Did I mention that's what we plan to call our son.  "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God, move out from your positions and follow them.  Since you have never traveled this way before..." Joshua 3:3-4  I didn't get it.  This is our second adoption. So we are adopting a boy this time from a different country, but really how different can it be?  "Never traveled this way before"?

It turns out that Honduras is NOT Ethiopia.  I know, this is shocking!  Well, it kinda was to me.

Honduras is in Central America.....
and they function on Central American time (not mine).

There are always ups and downs in international adoption.  With Ethiopia on the other side of the world and speaking a very foreign language (as opposed to Spanish for a Texan), I was completely unaware of the political temperature.  There is a lot of information available out of Honduras.  At any given moment I can read a Honduran newspaper thanks to Google translate.

The roller coaster ride recently, really shook my faith and I lost hope that my son would come out of Honduras before I had grandchildren.  Someone suggested a fasting period.  I knew right away she was right, but I am not a very nice person without food.  The blood sugar drops and it's not pretty.  Since my weak point seemed to be information overload, I decided to fast from Facebook.  SHOCKING! I love my Facebook friends! My on-line adoption community is so supportive and encouraging, but God speaks in a still small voice and I knew I was drowning Him out with too many other voices.

I took a week off from Facebook and guess what!!!  Hope showed up in the word and in flesh.  I received words of encouragement from friends that I could hug!  A friend at church told me she felt a need to pray for our family and our adoption journey.  I ran into another adoptive mom (that I never get to see) at the grocery store with her newly home son from China and we shared our hearts right there in the HEB.

God is faithful and He keeps His promises! I'm so thankful that He never gives up on me! And like with Peter, when I loose focus, He pulls me up and reminds me that He is all I need!

By the way: Tesfa is Amharic for Hope and Esperanza is Hope in Spanish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


I can't believe my last post was almost a year ago!

In March of 2012, I posted about a coming storm.  I knew it was coming, but I didn't know what it was....yet.  Then in June (our one year anniversary as a family of 5), we had our last visit with our social worker concerning Nazeret and how we were doing as a family.  That visit also became our first visit for our second adoption!  That's right, the Kuykendall's are "PAPER PREGNANT" again.  This time we are expecting a little boy 3-5 years old from Honduras.

When I started this blog I included Revelation 7:9  "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb."  Even then, I could visualize my family starting to look a little like heaven.  HA! I HAD NO IDEA!  I'm getting a little concerned about the "great multitude" part and "every nation".  Just kidding.  If that's what God has planned for our family, we will need a lot of bunk beds and a really big van.

You might be wondering how we ended up in Honduras.  Well, it starts with Nazeret.  She was not even home six months when she started asking us to adopt (or birth) a baby brother.  The second is out of the question and so was the first at that time.  Then in February I saw a Facebook post about an orphan choir made up primarily of Ethiopian children and thought how much I would love to have them in our hometown, but...we live in a small town and I knew that wasn't going to happen.  A couple days later I got an email from my social worker asking if I would consider hosting His Little Feet in our church.  I should have known God was up to something big, but I just thought He was answering a prayer of my heart.  I was excited for Nazeret to spend time with Ethiopian children.  I was surprised after months of planning to learn that we (the Kuykendall home) would be hosting one Ethiopian girl and one Honduran girl.  Both girls have a little piece of our hearts to this day.

A couple of months later and several conversations about adopting another child, Michael took a weekend to get away with the Lord and ask Him.  He answered with Matthew 1:21 "She will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus..."  We took it as a clear sign that we have a son.  Now, the Jesus part....that was a cause for laughter until we asked Nazeret: "Where is this little brother you want to bring home, Ethiopia?"  It really was no surprise when the Ethiopian child that had only been in America ten months said "NO! Honduras!" Now laugh if you must, but Jesus is pronounced Hay-soos in Spanish.  I ran to the computer to see if America World (our adoption agency) had a program in Honduras and guess started about the time we got Nazeret's referral!

Here we are about eight months later; all of our paperwork has been translated to Spanish and sits in the hands of the Honduran government....and we wait.

Waiting is so hard, but it is easier with friends.  I hope that you will join us while we wait.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Waiting for the Storm

There is 100% chance of rain and severe thunder storms today.  Spring in North Texas can be rough.  The younger girls and I will be out in town for routine doctor appointment, so I am not excited about the potential for bad weather today.  We are doing what we can to prepare: rain boots, umbrellas, jackets, etc.

As we look forward to the time of remembrance and celebration of Jesus' death and resurrection, our pastor brings the same question each Sunday.  Are you willing to follow Jesus, even unto death?  This has really been eating at the pit of my stomach.  A year ago, I thought following Him to Africa to take in and love one of His children might have felt a little something like following Him unto death.  There were so many unknowns.  We knew it would be hard and we knew it would demand sacrifice, but there were still so many emotions we could NEVER have been prepared for.

So why now? Why is this question eating at me? It is so easy to feel like we have checked off that box.  Look Lord, you said go and we went.  Ta-da! Done!  I don't think it works that way.  You see there was this guy named Paul.... He was CRAZY for the Lord.  He never stopped risking it all so that others could know Jesus.  He was beaten and imprisoned more than once, but He didn't stop.  I'm pretty sure this means I am not done.  There is a whole world out there that needs to hear the Good News of Jesus.  This is where it starts to freak me out a little.  Unreached people groups are unreached for a reason.  They are scary/unsafe.

I just read that there are 30 unevangelized people groups in Ethiopia that account for some 25 million people.  The number of Somalis that have fled into Ethiopia is around 4.5 million.  Ethiopia is about 45% Islamic! Due to the sheer population size of the country, Ethiopia contains more Muslims than Saudi Arabia! This country that I love is not only in desperate need, but about half of them have been deceived.  Sharing the Gospel with these people is risky.  They hate Christians, but I'm pretty sure Jesus knew that when He said "... a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.  They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me." John 16:2-3.  But then He still said "GO and make disciples of ALL nations..." (emphasis mine).

We sponsor a child that lives in an Islamic region of Ethiopia.  It's a start, but I feel an electricity in the air.  It feels like a storm is coming.  I have NO idea what my role will be, but I want to be prepared.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Happy Valentine's Day!!!


Our family has never really celebrated Valentine's Day.  I don't know why exactly, but I think we saw it more as a holiday for dating couples.  This year we have decided to go all out on Valentine's Day; make it a day to fully express our love to our girls.

We have all learned so much about love this year and God has broken down many of our old barriers. Love has a new and deeper meaning for us.  Our joy in this day starts by sharing with our girls that we can only feel and share our love because God first loved us. He brought Michael and I together in love (a long time ago) and out of that love came ALL three of our girls.

I am personally having one of my best Valentine's Days ever.  Giving and receiving love can be a little challenging for adopted children, but on Valentine's Day....well, the whole country is showing love.  My girl has been so sweet the past few days as she has looked forward to today.  There have been many hugs and kisses and the "I love you"s have flowed freely.  We received a valentine thanking us for being her mom and dad.  This morning I even heard that I was the greatest mom ever.  (that one comes with a mix of joy and pain as many things in the adoption life do)  I am looking forward to a full day of little gifts and gestures of love.

May God bless you on this day of love.  Let His love show in you and through you to your family and others that He places in your path today.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What a Difference a Year Can Make!

I have been silent for far too long, but this occasion demands that I take the time to sit down and share my heart and what the Lord has done.

The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy! Psalm 126:3

You see, one year ago today I saw my youngest daughter's beautiful smile for the very fist time.  This was the day she went from being LG (short for Little Girl unknown, but loved) to Nazeret.  My beautiful seven year old Ethiopian daughter, Nazeret Hope Kuykendall.

You know the famous line "Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings"?  Well, that is what it was like on that sweet day a year ago.  You see, our agency encourages each family to get to know and support other families on the adoption journey.  We communicate through a yahoo group; at that time, I had my iPhone set to "ding" every time I received an email.  On this day a year ago some family, I am sorry to say that I do not remember who, was matched with their little angel and the yahoo group was celebrating.  As I drove to the school to get Amelia, my phone went crazy and my tears started to flow.  This much activity could only mean that there was about to be one less orphan in this world.  I could not wait to park my car and check it out.

Much to my surprise and delight there had been a match made in heaven, but there was also a lot of chatter about a beautiful seven year old girl that had just been added to the list of children waiting for a forever family.  My heart started to race and my mind went even faster.  I could barely function to direct my phone to the internet address...and then...there she daughter was looking at me with the most beautiful smile.  As they say "the rest is history".

So here we are a year later and Nazeret has been in our home for seven months and EVERYTHING has changed!  Our family has grown and been changed in ways that we NEVER could have imagined.  God has birthed the most amazing and crazy love in my heart for this child that did not grow in my tummy.  I knew He would, but I couldn't have imagined this.  She brings me such joy!  But that's not all....

God used this past year or so to open our eyes and change our hearts.  Michela now feels strongly called to missions in Africa.  She is going back this summer.  We have a passion to love Jesus by caring for widows and orphans.  Our definition of "need" and "want" has been forever changed. Praise the Lord!

As you can see, our sweet Nazeret has grown and OH how that personality has blossomed.  She is healthy and thriving.  Her English blows my mind and she is doing great in first grade.  My baby has a love for HER Jesus that is so beautiful it makes my heart flutter.  God is so good and we are so blessed!  

Thank you for sharing in our journey.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"Not my mom"

Yesterday afternoon was full of small conflicts easily resolved with a suggestion to "Try again with respect." I am so thankful that Nazeret and I are truly comfortable with each other and learning how to do this mother/daughter dance. Just three short months ago these small conflicts would have been full out melt downs for hours.  I believe this is becoming easier (for both of us) because we have attachment and trust that were not there in the beginning.

So, why the "Not my mom" title? Well, that one got lobbed at me at dinner. It's not the first time and I know it won't be the last. This one was different though because my baby girl added that she was not staying here; she was going home.  I felt the pain stab into my heart, but probably not for the reason that you think. I knew that her emotions had just moved to another continent. Her argument with me started over eating dinner before she could have a sweet treat, but now we were dealing with loss and grief.

I snuggled her in my lap even as she insisted that I was not her mom and she was not going to stay here.  She started to cry and talk about the people and places that she has lost.  She misses them and my heart breaks for her.  She wants to go home.  Who wouldn't?  The situations and brokenness of her life in Ethiopia have not changed; she cannot go back.  I don't take it personal (by the grace of God).  She loves me and I AM her mom, but she has to grieve the loss and this is just part of it.  I assured her that I will always love her and be her mom no matter what feelings she shares with me.

It was over as quickly as it began.  We sat down together, finished our dinner and had a sweet treat.  Later at bed time, she held her arms open for a hug and whispered in my ear "I love you, Mom."

Life is good....hard....but GOOD!!!!

I have to add how proud I am of my other two girls.  They handle all of this with such grace.  Nazeret's "issues" often show up at the dinner table which makes eating rather unpleasant.  They worked together to clean all but mine and Nazeret's plates and gave us some space.  When we finished eating they rejoined their little sister (all forgiven) to play and watch a VeggieTales Sing Along.  I am so blessed to have three wonderful daughters!