Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tessa's Wedding: Antics and Anticipation

The professional photographers were busy trying to get groups formed and pictures taken (not an easy task with such a distracable group--it took Amanda Nisius to reign us all in!)

We had other helpers, too. At the top of the list was Tessa's cousin, Amanda, who was designated the bride's "personal attendant." The Lord has given Amanda has such a servant's heart, and she knows our family so well that no one could have filled this posisition better.

During the photo taking, her role often meant holding Tessa's surprisingly heavy bouquet.

The helper with the men's boutineers was Aaron's older sister, Arianna.

As seen below, some of these boutineers took more than one attempt.

Arianna is getting good practice for her own wedding. After being courted by a man named Eric, the two recently became engaged. They will be married in June. Eric is a graphic artist. He kindly designed Aaron and Tessa's invitations and programs. We were both grateful and impressed! They far exceeded our hopes! Thanks, Eric! And God's richest blessings to you and Arianna.

Some of the pre-wedding commotion in the sanctuary came from us being reunited with friends from far away. Here I am with Paul Ponsiglione. He and his mother, Paula, flew in from Virginia. The friendship of our two families dates back to the late 1990s when both our American families lived in England. Paul was only eight when we first met and I was taller than him (for a short time.) It's been almost three years since our families have seen each other.

Here Paula and Paul are surrounded by many of our children. This was Paula and Paul's first chance to meet our three newest family members.

Mother and son together

While we were absorbed in greeting guests, the photographers were gathering groups for the formal photos. Here are Tessa and Aaron with his parents. Mr. Beaver and I feel soooooo blessed that out daughter will have these two loving, lovable people as her in-laws. They already feel like old friends! 

The attempt to get a good picture of our nine daughters didn't go nearly so smoothly. First we had the age-old battle between the bride and the maid-of-honor over which of them is a quarter inch taller. It's plain to see that on this particular day, Lissie was certain she'd won.

I'm not sure, but it looks like Lissie was informing her older sister of her conclusion on that all-important quarter-inch here. By this time the rest of the girls had joined in the giggles.

Just when order was about to be restored, Jaynie (left) and Lissie surprised their oldest sister with big, ol' smack-a-roonies on the cheeks. Chaos ensued.

Thankfully, things went more smoothly when only Tessa's youngest three sisters were involved.

Tessa has been every girl's dream for an older sister. She's happily made time to read to them, paint their nails, do their hair, bake cookies, and, most importantly, just listen to them. Mr. Beaver and I are so glad that she wanted to get her four-year degree from home through the program called CollegePlus! so that she could continue to have an impact in the lives of these former orphans.

About this time, the tired Cinderella lost a glass slipper.

So we headed to the basement for some refreshment...but that's the next post.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tessa's Wedding: Ceremony Getting Closer

Mrs. Beaver:

One of the photographers, Therese Miller, taking a look at the pictures she's taken.

Tessa wanted to keep the wedding simple so the only flowers were two bouqets on the altar to say thank you to her birthparents for choosing to give her life.

The florist did a beautiful job with all the arrangements.

At this point in the afternoon, however, Aaron and Tessa, had eyes only for each other following that First Sight.

By this time others had entered the sanctuary. It would be a few hours before Aaron and Tessa had any private moments again.

Tessa's sister, Lissie, and Aaron's sister, Amber, had come up from the girls' dressing room and were watching all that was going on.

Cassandra helping Aaron's grandma pin on her coursage. It was a real blessing to already be operating as one family.

Katherine was preparing the guestbook and gift table.

Flower girl, Natasha, was ready for both photos and petal tossing

On the other hand, flower girl Princess Bink wanted to practice her stroll down the aisle. She seemed to think it would somehow feel different in her official flower girl dress than it did during the rehearsal the night before in a regular dress.

After Princess Bink's successful practice, we had all three flowergirls ready for a photo, sisters Oksana (6)(l), Natasha (11), and Princess Bink (8)

Before long the bride and groom were back on their feet making a tour of the beautiful building getting their pictures taken here and there and everywhere. (Sorry about the poor imitation of Dr. Seuss)

Can you guess who Tessa is looking at by the glow on her face?

"You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God I extol You."
Psalm 119:28

Monday, March 28, 2011

One Less

Mrs. Beaver:

There's one less orphan in Ethiopia. Our family experienced such joy seeing Meddie Grace arrive at the airport last night that I couldn't resist sharing a few more photos from the event for which we've waited so long.

A very happy older brother!

The Henn boys, "Dash" and "Bear," have eagerly been awaiting their new friend born in the same country.

Dash and Bear's 6-year-old sister, "Erna," in her Ethiopian dress

Here is the youngest in the Henn family, "Giggles." She knows all about Ethiopia, with two older brothers who were adopted from that country and a daddy who went on a missions trip to Ethiopia in December.

Our church is very kid friendly. This beautiful four-year-old will fit right in!

Bless her heart, the longer Meddie Grace was at the airport surrounded by an enormous crowd, the more relaxed she grew and was even smiling toward the end.

Lord of Life,

We thank you for the precious life you have placed in the midst of our church all the way from the continent of Africa. Thank you for protecting her and her new parents during their travels. Thank you for giving her parents a heart for fatherless children.

Please grant her new church family wisdom to know how to come alongside her family as they all adjust to the big change. Please help us to be selfless as we reach out to meet their needs following the selfless act of adding an older, orphaned child to their family.

Please help all of us to mirror Christ's gentleness and humility as we love on her. Please help all of us to live before Meddie Grace in such a way that she will be attracted to Christ. Please rescue, redeem and save Meddie that she might glorify You.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Family Redefined

Several times since we began blogging, we've mentioned the progress of the adoption of our dear friends the Nordstroms.

Tonight we had the joy of being at the airport as they arrived home with their little "Peaches."

Peaches' new brothers, Eddie Joe and Big Fella waiting for their little sister.
Big sister, Sunshine (right), with friend, Naomi

4-year-old Katie ready to welcome Peaches home with a poster she had worked on for days

The 50-60 of us who had gathered, most from our church family, cheered when the plane arrived.

We all eagerly awaited the first sighting of the Nordstroms, but Kaylee knew better than most what this felt like as a sibling. Almost four years ago, her parents adopted her brothers, Dash and Bear, from Ethiopia. Tonight Kaylee and all her siblings were wearing clothing from Ethiopia.


Through the large glass windows we all got our first sighting of Russ, Heather and Peaches. As soon as the three of them emerged through security, their five children who had stayed at home mobbed them.

Together as last! A family 16 months in the making! What a glorious God to work such a wonder!

What a happy family! Praise be to God!

As Peaches began to meet those who'd come to the airport, two of the first friends she was introduced to were Dash and Bear, the brothers mentioned earlier who were adopted from Ethiopia nearly four years ago.

The Gitlins, who'd adopted from Ethiopia about nine months ago, were also on hand to welcome the Nordstroms home and celebrate God's redefining of their family.

Many friends brought banners they made or balloons or stuffed animals. The Etheringtons even brough a large box of cupcakes that Jack (left) and his grandma had made.

What a blessed former orphan Peaches is--parents who love her...

...brothers ready to protect her...

...and a sister who's oh-so happy to finally have a sister. In fact, Peaches' Ethiopian name, Meddie, means "I have a sister." Sunshine is the oldest of four brothers so the colors pink and purple will be a welcome change!

I don't want to finish this post without acknowledging the extra-special care the Nordstroms and our family
have received from the airport employees. These kind women have gone out of their way to make our way easier as we adopt. Our two families have decided to give our airport the unofficial designation: "Adoption-Friendly Airport."

Here I snagged Cindy (left) for a photo with the happy adoptive family. Cindy was there both when Russ and Heather left a week ago and when they returned.

The Nordstroms have named their newest family member Meddie Grace. She is truly a gift of grace from a good God, who will provide the eight Nordstroms all the grace they need as they adjust to the enormous change of adding an older child to their family. We thank the Lord from blessing our dear friends with beautiful Meddie Grace.