Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Johnny's Dedication and Homecoming Day

On the Occasion of Our Son’s Dedication


Greensboro, North Carolina

One year ago today, Johnny Tibebu Pell, we carried you off a plane and introduced you to your sister Emma and our family changed.

In the year between that day and today we have had a lot of time think about what it means to be the parents of someone as special as you. You bring so much to our family—joy, laughter, curiosity, an adventurous sparkle in your eye, and an Afro. And, while we may never be able to give you as much as you give to us, today we want to publically express our commitment to you and our desire you create a safe place for you to grow and learn about what it means to follow after Jesus and to live in the awe and wonder of his creation.

John Tibebu, you came into this world under challenging circumstances, and, perhaps, will always wrestle with what it means to be adopted; what it means to be Ethiopian; and what it means to be loved, in unique ways by two families—including one you may never see. These are and will be elements of your story that will always, to some extent, inform how you navigate your life.

And, while we wish every day that you never had to experience any of this, we know we can’t take this from you—cannot bear this burden for you. We know that someday the world may seem unkind, filled with injustice, a place where God feels far away; We know that someday you may face curious stares and biting remarks; We know that some day your beautiful skin may feel like an unbearable burden and your bouncy curls a remainder that part of you is far, far away from this place; and We know that we will not have all of the answers, we cannot help you through every struggle and every question because your journey, Johnny, is unlike anything we have experienced.

Yet, while our promises are few, they are certain and they are solid.

We promise to love you more everyday, to hold you in high regard, as a unique and wonderful creation of our God.

We promise never to leave your side as you explore, and question, and grow. As you struggle, we will lift you up. As you question, we help you find answers. We will try, to best of our ability, to demonstrate the love of God’s Kingdom—a love that is patient, kind, slow to anger, and quick to forgive.

In world of injustice, we promise to speak often of God’s Kingdom—a place in which our hope rests, a dream, an idea, and a reality in which our differences forge us together and love is, regardless of what the cynics say, strong enough to overcome.

When you feel alone, we promise to rest by your side. To slow down the pace of an ever-quickening world and allow you experience the comfort of family. And, if the day should ever come when you need to find answers for yourself then we will support you along the way never begrudging you for wanting understand the plans God has for your life.

In all of this, Johnny Tibebu Pell, we promise never to be so arrogant to believe that we can raise you alone. Already, the people in this room have loved and supported you, and we will continue to look to them for strength and support; Moreover, we promise to rely on the strength of our God, the creator of good things, the sustainer of life, and the one in whom our hope rests.

It is our hope for you that you grow into a man of God. A man with unique giftings and a desire to serve others above yourself. A man that is confident but also humble—always changing and growing, always becoming. We want you to be a man that sees life as an adventure and takes advantage of every moment. A man that is thoughtful and kind; always curious about others and the world around you. A man that is quick to trust and even quicker to forgive. A man that is following in the footsteps of the One that goes before us, the One that has made our paths straight.

Today, we dedicate you to the Lord, and in doing so we are reminded that families are built in strange and miraculous ways. And, if nothing else, remember that every time we call your name it reminds us that you are a fourth-generation John Pell, you are bound up in a family and a history that spans oceans and continents, and you are our son.

May the Lord Bless and Keep you, John Tibebu Pell.


We dedicated Johnny in our home surrounded by our good friends in Greensboro; the community of believers that God has blessed us with for this season of our life. It was such a sweet time for us and a wonderful way to celebrate Johnny's first Homecoming Day. Thank you to all of our good friends that made this day so special.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Emma's "Children"

Meet Emma's Children......

From left to right: Boots in his bed, Any (pronounced like Amy except with an "n") the Panda, kitty ("she is Emma's pet not a children"), and Cinderelly. It's so funny what kids will attach to. Boots came with Dora but apparently Emma is a much better caregiver than Dora was. Boots' bed is a jewelry box from ????. Any was purchased at the zoo by Yaya and Pappy this last spring. Kitty was found at a yard sale (don't judge) a couple of years ago. And Cinderelly was a Target special this year during the black Friday sales. So this is the gang, Emma's current BFF's. If you come to our house, don't be surprised to be shushed by Emma as oftentimes her children are sleeping.....how rude for you to wake them up!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

These Days.....

Are going by way too fast. I no longer have a baby. Johnny is officially a little boy. Before I forget all about this stage and move onto the next I thought I would write a bit about each of my kiddos for my own memory sake.

With a three and a half year old and a now 19 month old, the words and phrases that you hear around our house are quite amusing. Johnny is saying more words everyday. Let's see if I can remember all of the things that he says:

Ah do (All done)
Nah (No)
Uck (Truck)
Caw (Car)
Love you (yuv u)
Oosh (shoes)
Baba (bottle)
Ma (milk)
cu (cup)
wawa (water)
ba (bath)
nana (banana)
eese (cheese)
ma (more)
Mommy (Mammee)
Papa (for Papa and Pappy)
Mama (for Meemaw)

Johnny does not walk anywhere, he runs. If he hears anything interesting going on he takes of at a dead run and pushes his way into the middle to make sure he doesn't miss out (second child maybe? :) He loves balls, cars, trucks, planes, all the boy stuff. He is extremely adventurous; climbs on everything and tries to jump off, goes down any slide, ect but gets scared by certain sounds or electronics like the vacuum or a remote controlled car. He is very into spitting right now and spits to be funny (this is not funny). His new thing is to spit his food at the dog and then laughs hysterically as Talula eats it up. He mimics Emma and tries to do whatever she does to make us laugh. He loves music and his dancing now consists of "shaking it" and running around in a circle. He now does "fists of fury" on command. His favorite thing to play is "dunk" with mommy, daddy and emma and he will clap for us whenever we make a basket in his new basketball hoop. He still loves to snuggle and if John or I sit on the ground he will run over, climb in our lap and lay his head on our chest. He also does this with Emma which she LOVES. He loves to push his balls and cars around in the baby stroller. He is still a morning person and greets us each morning with a huge smile and normally pointing at a ball ready to play. He is a sweet boy that is passionate in how he plays and how he loves his family.

Emma's imagination has exploded. She spends most of her day playing with her "children" in some way shape or form. She has included Johnny in this play as the Daddy. She is a rule follower and people pleaser. We told her once that we were not going to say poop in public anymore (this is one of her favorite topics). Since that day we are given a stern talking to if we "say poop in public". She loves playing with her brother and bossing him around. The other day they were playing in Johnny's crib and Emma had Johnny laying down with a blanket tucked around him with a fake bottle. He was her baby and it was time to go to sleep. She is also very compassionate. If Johnny is having a hard time she is the first to get him a toy or do a silly dance to try and make him happy. Emma's favorite thing to play is dragons. She pulls out the tent and we get inside with her "children" and we hide from the dragons. This could go on for hours. She still loves to dance and puts on dance shows for us on a regular basis. She is not a morning person and takes a while to wake up in the morning but once she is up, she talks all day long. She is very social and asks questions about EVERYTHING! She still snuggles with us and asks to be rocked prior to bed at least a couple of days a week. She wants to wear dresses only. We finally made one of her dresses her "house dress" so that she could put it on once we got home from something that we made her wear pants to. If she is wearing tights and a sweater with her dress she will immediately take them off once she is inside so she is normally wearing a summer dress no matter how cold it is outside. She has the three year old stubborn and OCD attitude but is quick to say she is sorry and is great at listening and following instruction when needed. Her sweet spirit and loving attitude towards others still amazes me on a daily basis.

Some Emma phrases:

"We don't say poop in public"
"Did God make poop?"
"Johnny is a kazy (crazy) man"
"I've got to get settled"
"That's not my friend, that's my children" (when talking about her stuffed animals and dolls)
"I'm having a snappy day" (this is a bad day)
"Once there was a little girl named poopsidaisy and .........." (telling a story)
"It's like 30 o'clock" (telling time)
"What are we doing today tomorrow?" (when asking about the morning)
"I only wear elmo underwear if I am wearing pants, if I wear a dress I have to wear my princess underwear"
"Princesses don't clean up"
"Can I wear my house dress today?" (her summer dress she wears around the house)
"Did we do that lesterday? (when asking about anything in the past)

Thursday, February 17, 2011


One of Johnny's favorite things to do is to crawl in your lap and lay his head on your chest to snuggle. He has learned that he can do this with Emma too and she LOVES it. No matter what she is doing, if Johnny is in a snuggling mood, she will stop what she is doing to let him snuggle with her. So sweet........

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

3 Year Old Theology

Emma has been asking a lot of questions about God lately. Some on the silly side like..."does God poop?" and some more thought out questions. Here is a conversation I had in the car with Emma the other day....

Emma: "Mom, is Jesus God?"

Me: "Yes Emma, Jesus is God" (Thinking...please don't ask me to explain the Trinity to you at 3 years old; or at any age for that matter :)

Emma: "Does God sleep?"

Me: "Hmmmm.....I don't know Emma, let's ask Daddy what he thinks when we see him" (Phew...she is just asking random questions)

Emma: "Jesus slept on the boat with his friends. God must sleep"

Me: "Ummmm......"

Looks like Emma in her three years has figured out more than Mommy has.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oh The Places We've Been.....

Happy Valentine's Day!!!!

Click here to view this photo book larger

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our vacation just kept going and going......

John had to go to a conference at the beginning of January so instead of heading home the kids and I stayed in Washington with the plan that I would fly back with the kids the day after John got home from his conference. Five days, three cancelled flights and three snowstorms later.....we finally got home. We made the most of our delays and the snow with a little bit of......


Some photo shoots......

Some playing in the snow......

Emma was so brave and wanted to sled by herself.....
Even got past doing a face plant and wanted more.....

And of course, some disney movies to end the evening.......