Friday, December 30, 2011

Our Last Day in Ethiopia

I woke up at about 3:30 on Tuesday morning. I could not go back to sleep and my mind was racing. The reality that we were going to have to say goodbye to Mia and leave her hit me so hard. I was really emotional. I tried so hard to go back to sleep, because I knew it would be a long day, but I just couldn't.

We were picked up by the AGCI driver and taken to Hannah's Hope. This time it was so special, because two families joined us who were going to pick up their sweet children. We were able to take pictures and witness the reunion of these families. It was so wonderful to be a part of their special moment and it was a great reminder to me that we will be coming back (hopefully soon) to get our girl.

We spent the morning playing with M. She liked filling the toy box with all the toys, then taking them out, and repeating. Everyday I brought toys for her to play with. On the last day I brought a notebook and pen, so that I could write down her clothing sizes. She wanted to see the notebook and pen, so I let her play with it for a while. She loved it. She sat still for a long time "writing". I will be sure to pack a notebook and crayons for our long flight home with her.
We also spent time looking at the photo book we brought her. She carried it around for a long time. I showed her the pictures of us and her brothers. I can't wait for her to meet her brothers. I just know she is going to love them.

As always, our time at Hannah's Hope went by too quickly, and it was time to go back to the hotel for lunch. After lunch we bought a goat(or maybe it was a sheep) to take to the orphanage where Mia spent the first 2.5 years of her life. Purchasing and delivering a goat was quite interesting. I think I need to do a whole post just about that experience.
We were able to visit with her first caregiver and see the place she lived. Then, we went back to Hannah's Hope for our final visit with our girl. When I walked in she had just finished her bath and her special mother was dressing her. She looked so cute and her hair was down for the first time since we met her. She looked beautiful with all her curls. When she saw us, she said the word for shoes in Amharic and kept saying it over and over. She wanted her shoes on so she could go outside and play with us. She loves to play outside! We played for a while until we were told it was time to go. My heart just sank when they told us it was time to say goodbye and I immediately had to fight the tears from coming.
We gave her lots of hugs and kisses, tried to take some last minute pictures, and then walked our sweet girl up the stairs to her room. I am so thankful for her special mothers, and I know without a doubt that she is in good hands at Hannah's Hope, but it was so hard to let her go.
It is hard even now, as I remember those feelings. I pray she remembers us and that she is happy to see us when we return. I pray that the time passes quickly and that she will soon be in our arms again.

We had an incredible trip to Ethiopia. The Lord answered so many of our prayers and I know He will continue to.

Leaving our daughter in Ethiopia is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but the Lord was with us, and He gave me an indescribable peace. I know that leaving just brought us one step (one really hard step) closer to bringing her home.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Monday in Ethiopia: The Day She Became Ours

Justin and I both woke up before 5 am on Monday morning. We felt very rested and couldn't fall back asleep. We were so excited and a little nervous about our court appointment. We met the Smith's for breakfast and it turns out they both got up very early, as well. We were all anxious to get to court.

When we got to court we met our case worker. We introduced ourselves and he gave us a little overview of what to expect. We waited in a room with many other adoptive families and birth families. There were way more people than seats in this room, so we stood up most of the time. There were signs all over the room that said "Silence" in different languages. Some people talked softly, but for the most part we were all just quietly looking around. We waited for about 2 hours and it seemed much longer than that.

I started to get very nervous as we waited. The door to the judge's office would open and they called a name. Every time the door open all eyes and ears were on the person calling out names. I thought they would never call our name.

Around 11:00 they finally called the name of our orphanage and we, the Smiths, and our case worker went into the small room. We sat down and the judge asked who was who. We told her and then she asked us a few simple questions.

Judge: Do you have any children?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do they know about the adoption?
Us: Yes
Judge: Are your children ok with the fact that you are adopting from Ethiopia? (or something along these lines)
Us: Yes
Judge: Have you learned about Ethiopia?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do you plan to teach your child about where they come from?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do you know other families adopting from Ethiopia?
Us: Yes
Judge: Have you met the child you are planning to adopt?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do you realize that this adoption is irreversible?
Us: Yes
Judge: Do you want to adopt the child?
Us: Yes
Judge: Ok, all of your paperwork is in order and they are all yours.

Just like that, we became a family of five. It was so surreal. I could not believe my ears.
We were all so happy and as we left the court room and came outside we couldn't help, but all hug each other. We even hugged our case worker who probably thought we were crazy. Justin and I took our first picture as parents of three.

After court we went to eat at an Italian restaurant and then we went to the market.
I think our market experience was a little unusual, because we only went to one shop. None of us complained though, because we were able to get what we needed and we were all so anxious to get back to our kids.

When we got to Hannah's Hope I was so happy to see Mia. She had just taken her bath and smelled like lotion. It was such a sweet smell. She was ready to play.
One of her favorite things to do while we were there was to hold Justin's hand and walk all around the court yard. She would say, "Papa" and then he repeated her and this went on for a while. It was so cute. She loves her Daddy so much! I really think she is going to be quite the Daddy's girl and this is fine with him.
Justin is such a good dad to our boys and I always knew he would be a great daddy to a little girl, too. He attempted to play the guitar for her. One of the strings broke as soon as he started playing. She loves music and her daddy does too. They are a match made in heaven, these two!
After we walked, danced, and played on the swings, our little girl was exhausted. She let me hold her for a long time. I took her into the baby room where she just let me hold her quietly. It was so sweet. Justin came in and sat beside us, and she just nestled her head into him. It was a great moment for all of us.
You can tell from this picture how exhausted we all were. It had been a really long, but really good, day. A part of me was hoping if we just sat quiet enough in this room, no one would come and tell us it was time to go. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and our snuggle time was cut short. We took her upstairs and gave her to her special mothers. Fortunately, there were no tears this time.

When we got back to the hotel, I became very overwhelmed with emotion and exhaustion. I couldn't believe that she was really our daughter. I also couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that we had to say goodbye and leave her there the very next day. I knew that Tuesday was going to be the hardest day.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sunday in Ethiopia

It has been exactly one week since we said goodbye to our daughter and left Ethiopia. I am so glad we were able to celebrate Christmas with our family. It was a good Christmas, but it was also hard to be so far away from our daughter. It has been hard to get back to normal. I'm not really sure what normal is right now. We are kind of caught in the middle of our old life before Mia and our new life with her. I am so ready to have her home!

I do want to go back and document more about our trip. I last told you about our first day with our daughter, so now I will write a little about our second full day in Ethiopia.

After our wonderful first day with Mia, we went to bed that evening so thankful to God for His goodness. I slept really good that night, probably the best I slept the whole trip. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling ok until I stood up. I was really queasy and dizzy. I slowly got ready and decided to skip breakfast downstairs. Justin met the Smith's for breakfast and had some hot tea sent upstairs to me.

I kept praying that I would feel better, so that I could enjoy my time with Mia. I felt ok, but not great, when we left to go to Hannah's Hope. Mia met us in the court yard again and she was ready to play. We had another fun day with her. She loved blowing bubbles, dancing, and running all around. She is such a busy girl with a big personality. She had fun walking all over the courtyard holding Justin's hand. It was so sweet.

We also learned something new about our daughter. She does not like to share!!! I know this is typical of most two year olds, but I believe it is exaggerated for her because she has never had anything that really belongs to her. When we first got to Hannah's Hope, she picked up a book and carried it around for a while. After a while, she got tired of the book and put it down. Justin started rolling a ball back and forth to her. She was playing happily, when out of the corner of her eye, she saw a little boy pick up "her" book. She started screaming and ran over to get her book back. The special mother that was watching made the little boy give the book back to Mia. Even after she got her book back, she was so upset. This was the first time we saw her really unhappy. It was hard to watch her so distraught, but it also gave us a chance to comfort her. She allowed me to hold her and rock her and she began to calm down.

Justin and I were able to have a really sweet moment with her as I held her and we sang "Jesus Loves Me". She just sat quietly and looked back and forth into our eyes. It was so nice to just hold her and rock her. I had to fight back tears as I thought about the fact that she didn't have a mom to hold her, rock her, and sing to her for the first 2 years of her life. I feel like I have missed so many special moments with her. Adoption is beautiful and full of joy, but there are also moments of sadness mixed in. As I sat and rocked my sweet girl, I was filled with joy and sadness at the same time.

We were able to feed M her lunch and play with her all by ourselves while the other babies were going down for their naps. We probably kept her up a little too late from nap, because she was exhausted by the time we left. When it was time for us to take her inside for her nap, she did not want to go. She screamed and threw a fit. It was so hard for me to walk her up those stairs and put her in her crib. She held onto me and cried and cried. Again, I had to fight back tears. Her sweet special mothers helped calm her down and soon she was happy again. We took a few pictures with her special mothers and then told her goodbye for the day. It was really hard for me to leave that day. I wish we could have stayed all day.

We went back to the hotel and got some lunch. I was still feeling a little queazy, but I forced myself to eat. I ate minestrone soup and drank a glass bottled coke (the best coke I ever tasted), and almost immediately felt better. We spent our afternoon relaxing and taking a long nap.

That evening our driver, Wass, took us to a cultural dinner.
We had a very fun and memorable evening with the Smiths. The Smiths were our travel buddies for the trip. They were there meeting their sweet little boy. I am so glad we were able to travel with them and become dear friends.
I love the way we washed our hands at the table. I think I should start doing this at home with my boys to make sure they was their hands before we eat.
I don't know why I cut off Wass's head, but here he is telling us all about the Ethiopian food we were about to eat. This was my first taste of Ethiopian food and it was pretty good. I don't know if it is something I would want to eat every day, but I liked most of it.
My favorite part of the whole experience was watching the performers. They were amazingly talented.
Wass was called up on stage to dance. He was really good and it was obvious he had previous experience. Then the dancer on stage said to Wass that since he had danced with his girl, now he was going to come take one of his girls. Well, I had no idea this is what the man said, and was in shock when he came to our table and took me by the hand. He literally dragged me to the stage as I yelled, "no, no, no." I could not believe I was standing on the stage in front of all those people about to perform and Ethiopian dance. Oh, my goodness, I still can't believe it.

If you are my friend on facebook, you probably already saw my sad attempt at dancing. It really was a lot of fun and we got a lot of laughs. At one point, when I was dancing, I looked at the audience, and everyone was laughing hysterically. How nice, that I was able to be the comic relief for the evening. Ha!! I like to think that Mia would have been proud of her mommy. I will have to show her my dancing some time.

All in all, our second day in Ethiopia was a good one. It was hard to believe that we were already half way done with our trip. The next day, Monday, was our court appointment. We went to bed that evening praising God for our time with our daughter, and praying that we would pass court the next day.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What's Next?

Last week Justin and I traveled across the world, met our beautiful daughter,
spent time with her and fell in love,
attended court where we were told, "she is all yours."
Then we said good bye and left a part of our hearts in Ethiopia.
Of course this is the abbreviated version of our week and I will write more details of our trip soon. The question everyone asks is when do we get to bring her home. The answer is we don't really know, but we can tell you what has to happen next.

We will wait to hear that our file has been to submitted to the U.S. embassy in Ethiopia. This has been taking most families about 2 weeks, but it could be longer for us since our 2 weeks falls on New Years.

Then, we will wait for the embassy to review our case. We really don't know how long this will take.

When everything is clear with the embassy we will be given an embassy date and travel dates.

We are hoping to travel at the end of January, but it could take longer. For now, we just wait and pray. We are pretty good at that, by now. :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Meeting Our Daughter

I am sitting in my hotel room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We arrived here safely Friday night. It was a long trip, and we were so glad to finally be here. We slept pretty good that night, but it was not easy, because we were both so excited about meeting our daughter on Saturday morning. 

Saturday was an incredible day, the day we dreamed of for so long. I really didn't know what to expect with meeting our daughter. We had heard that she was shy and reserved. We heard that she was a little bit afraid of people and we expected it to take her a while to warm up to us. When we went downstairs for breakfast we met another couple who had spent the week visiting their two children at Hannah's Hope. They told us that Mia M was very sweet and that she went around saying, "mama, mama." This made me very happy, but I still didn't know what to expect.

After breakfast, our driver arrived and we and another couple, who have become dear friends in the past couple of days, loaded into the van. It was such a surreal feeling to actually be here and Ethiopia about to meet our children. The van pulled up to the famous black gate of Hannah's Hope and I could barely contain my excitement.

Justin spotted Mia M almost immediately. When we got out of the van I saw her too. I started walking towards her and her special mother's (her caregivers at Hannah's Hope) pointed to me and told Mia, "It's Mama." She ran ( or walked very quickly) to me saying, "Mama, Mama" and gave me a kiss on my cheek. I could not believe it. She was smiling and laughing. It was sooooooo amazing!

She then played a game with me where she would give me a high five and laugh. Her laugh is incredible! Before this trip, I had only 2 pictures of her smiling, and it is a very sweet, shy smile. Since, we have been here, we have taken so many pictures of her smiling. She laughs and smiles constantly. 

We were told that when she first came to Hannah's Hope (just a few weeks ago) that she was afraid of everyone and cried a lot.  Now, she loves everyone and is so happy in her new home. We also love everyone we have met here. The special mothers and other workers and just heaven sent. I am so thankful for them.

We had a phenomenal first day with our daughter. I was on cloud 9 the entire time. She gave us lots of kisses, said mama and daddy, and showed us her really cute dance moves. Poor thing was dancing so much, that at one point, she danced herself right into a bucket of soapy water. I had to fish her out quickly and go upstairs to change her clothes. 

She is so cute and I wish I could show the many pictures of her great big smile, but we can't post pictures until she is home. When it was time for us to leave yesterday, we took her upstairs to her bedroom. I lay her in her bed for a nap and she waved, blew us a kiss, and said "chow." 

We are so thankful to the Lord for uniting us with our daughter. He is so, so good! 

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

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


We leave for Ethiopia tomorrow!!! I am testing this to see if I can post to blogger from my e-mail account. Hopefully we will be able to update our blog while we are away. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hope Remains Auction and Giveaway Results

Our on-line auction closed on Sunday and I am just now getting around to posting. Things have been crazy around here, because we leave for Ethiopia in 2 days!!!! I already contacted all of the winners and I sent the packages today, so if you were a top bidder, you should receive your items soon. I posted all of the auction winners on the previous auction posts.

Jax helped me draw the winner for the paper bead necklace.
It was Jessica Moore!! Thanks for bidding, Jessica!
Thank you to all of you who bid on items or shared about our auction. We were very happy with the results.

We raised $470!!!! We also had some very generous friends match all of our profits in the auction. As if that isn't good enough, Brittany's Hope Foundation will match everything we made as well.

We are continually amazed at the way God has provided for this adoption. He is so good and we give him all the glory.

I also have to thank my friends, James and Stephanie, again for donating all of the items for our auction. I pray the Lord richly blesses you!

Now, I need to get back to my to-do list. I don't know if I will post again before we leave. I can't wait to share stories about our daughter and our time in Africa.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pictures for our Girl

The only thing we are able to take to leave with Mia Grace is a photo album with pictures of her new family. We chose a soft album that she can hold and cuddle while she looks at the pictures of us. We will also include a few pictures of her, so that she knows she is a part of our family. My friend, Megan took a few new pictures of us to give to our girl. We love her so much and I know it may be a lot to ask from a pic, but I hope she can see how much we love and want her.
Mommy and Daddy are so ready to meet our little girl. Just one more week until we will be holding her in our arms!
Mia Grace's two big brothers are ready for their little sister to be home.
Jaxon is ready to be a big brother although I am sure it won't be easy for him to give up his place as baby of our family.
Sawyer is already a really good big brother, but he is excited about a little sister. Yesterday as we were decorating the Christmas tree, he said, "Mia is going to love being here for Christmas next year. It will be everything she ever dreamed of!" I kind of doubt she is dreaming about Christmas as our house, but it did warm my heart to know that my son thinks Christmas at our house is a special time that he wants to share with his little sister.
I can't wait to add one more face to our family pictures!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One Year Ago

Last year, on December 7th, we found out that we were officially on the wait list for our daughter. It was such an exciting day. The boys and I celebrated with a cookie cake.

I had no idea that one year later, we would be getting ready to go meet our girl in 1 week and 1 day. Can you believe we leave one week from tomorrow?

This has been a long year of praying, waiting, and wondering about our daughter, but now we get to meet her and tell her how much we love her. Yay!!!

Yesterday, I posted an auction with lots of awesome gifts from Ethiopia, so be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hope Remains Auction and Giveaway

I am very excited about our first ever on-line auction. We leave for Ethiopia in 9 days, so what better way to celebrate than with an auction with lots of special items from Ethiopia. Everything was given to us by our friends James and Stephanie. Go here to read more about our friends and about why we are doing this auction. Of course, all of the proceeds will go to help us bring our daughter home from Ethiopia. What's even better, is that the proceeds will be matched with a grant from Brittany's Hope.

So, without further ado. Here are the details of the auction.
1. Click on the following links to see the items we have up for bid.
2. Place your bid in the comment section.
3. The bid price includes shipping.
4. Please leave your e-mail address, so that I contact you if you win.
5. The auction will close Sunday December 11 at 8:00 central time.
6. We will ship the items before we leave next week, so you will have them in plenty of time for Christmas.

Auction Items:

If that's not enough we will also be giving away one of the paper bead necklaces shown above. All you have to do to be entered in the giveaway is to bid on an auction item or share our auction on your blog, facebook, or twitter. Just leave a comment on this post telling me where you shared. You will get one entry for every share. You will also get one entry for every item you bid on.

Thanks for helping us bring our daughter home.

Hope Remains

We are hosting our very first on-line auction and I am very excited about it. All of the items featured in this auction are from Ethiopia. We have some wonderful items that will make great Christmas gifts or special prizes for yourself.

All of the items were given to us by our friends, James and Stephanie. James and Stephanie were in the Ethiopia program to adopt a daughter. Their adoption journey did not go as planned and they lost four referrals. They recently decided to withdraw from the Ethiopia program. As you can imagine this has been a very difficult time for them. My heart breaks for them and it really is so hard to understand why this has happened.

Stephanie contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I would like the items they bought when they traveled to Ethiopia. She wanted to give us the items, so we could sell them and use the money to help bring our daughter home. I have to be honest, at first I did not want to accept the items. I knew they were meant for the their daughter, but she really wanted us to have them. I am humbled and honored that in the midst of their pain, they have chosen to bless our family and our daughter with this gift.

A few weeks ago, Justin and I received a matching grant from Brittany's Hope. Brittany's Hope is a grant organization that helps adoptive parents bring home their special needs' children. Brittany's Hope was created to honor the founder's adoptive daughter, Brittany, who passed away in 1999. All of the money we make in this auction will be matched by Brittany's Hope.I think the story of Brittany's Hope and the story of James and Stephanie are similar. They are both stories of hope in the midst of pain.

Please pray for our friends, James and Stephanie. They are trying to figure out what their next steps are and I know they want to follow after the Lord. You can visit their blog, Life in the Gateway City, to read more of their story.

I plan to post the auction items tonight, so stay tuned.

#10 Two Paper Bead Necklaces: Closed

Winner: Brenda Handy
The bid is for 2 paper beed necklaces. The third necklace I will give away. Every one who bids in this auction will be automatically entered to win the necklace. I will also enter everyone who blogs about the auction or shares it on facebook or twitter. If you want to be entered in the giveaway, go here.
Starting Bid for 2 Magazine necklaces: $20
Please Bid in increments of $5
(Post Bid in Comments Section)

#9: Purse and Key Chain: Closed

Winner: Leslie Young
This small purse would make a great gift for a little girl. It also comes with an Ethiopian key chain.
Starting Bid: $10
Please Bid in increments of $5
(Post Bid in comments section)

#8: Amharic Bible and 2 Wooden Crosses: Closed

Winner: Molly
This set is very special. This Amharic Bible is so beautiful. It is written in Amharic, the language of Ethiopia. It also comes with 2 wooden Ethiopian crosses.
Starting Bid:$25
Please bid in increments of $5
(Post bid in comments section)

#7: Green Scarf with Flowers + Brown and Silver Necklace: Closed

Winner: Misty Halley
Here is another beautiful scarf and necklace set. This is a large scarf with beautiful flowers. This necklace is made by the women of Yezelalem Minch.
Starting Bid: $25
Please Bid in increments of $5
(Post bid in the comment section)

#6: Orange and Blue Scarf + Necklace: Closed

Winner: Leslie Young
The picture does not do this scarf justice. It is so beautiful and very colorful (not just orange and blue). It is a long scarf with many different patterns. I really wanted to keep this one for myself. It's my favorite. This necklace was also made by the women of Yezelalem Minch.
Starting Bid:$25
Please Bid in Increments of $5
(Post bids in comments section)

#5: Blue Scarf and Necklace Set: Closed

Winner: Beth
This is a beautiful set that would make a great Christmas gift. The necklace was made by women who are part of a ministry in Addis Ababa called Yezelalem Minch. Yezeleam Minch is a an organization that ministers to at-risk children in Ethiopia. They do sponsorship for children as well as provide free meals for families.
Starting Bid: $25
Please bid in increments of $5
(Post your bid in the comments section)

#4: CDs, DVD, and Ethiopian Flag: Closed

Winner: Amy @ Filled With Praise
This package includes 2 cds and a DVD purchased at a Christian Bookstore in Ethiopia. It also comes with an Ethiopian flag
Starting Bid: $10
Please bid in increments of $1
(Post bid in comments section)

#3: Set of 3 Scarves: Closed

Winner: Skylar Robinson
These beautiful scarves were made in Ethiopia. I love the colors in all of them. These would make great Christmas gifts or you could keep 1 (or all 3) for yourself.
Starting Bid: $25
Bid in increments of $5
(Post Bid in the Comments Section)

#2 Toys and Ethiopian Flag: Closed

Winner: TitusHome
This would be a great gift for a preschooler. The set includes a stuffed giraffe, a camel puzzle, and an Ethiopian flag.
Opening Bid:$15
Please Bid in increments of $5
(Post Bid in Comments Section)

#1.Little Girl's Traditional Ethiopian Dress and Head Scarf: Closed

Winner: Titus Home
This is a beautiful traditional Ethiopian dress and coordinating head scarf. I am not sure of the size, but would probably fit a 3-5 year old.
Starting Bid: $25
Please bid in increments of $5
(Leave your bid in the comments section)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Our Weekend

The end of last week consisted of us preparing for our garage sale. Our wonderful friends donated items. I wish I had a before pic of all the stuff. It was a ton of stuff!!! Thankfully, we had wonderful friends, like Megan below, to help sort and price the stuff. There is no way Justin and I could have done it without them.
Here are a couple of pictures of just some of the merchandise.

Saturday was a beautiful day and we had customers all morning. We put a picture of our daughter out so everyone could see who they were helping us bring home.
It was a great day and our grand total was $1551.51! Praise God for continuing to provide.

Last night, we went to our children's musical at church. Sawyer did a great job as a singing shepherd boy!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The God Who Sees

Every other Wednesday morning I go to a women's Bible study. It is a sweet time of fellowship with a wonderful group of ladies. We are currently going through Angela Thomas's "Brave" together.

This week's study was titled, "I am invisible." We walked through Genesis 16 where God appears to Hagar in the desert after she fleas from Sarah. Hagar calls God, "El Roi" or "the God who sees." It was a good reminder to all of us stay at home moms that we are valued and that even when it seems like we are invisible, the Lord sees us.

As I did the study I couldn't help but think about my daughter who has spent much of her life in a crib. It is all she knew, but she must have felt invisible at times. My heart just breaks for her, but God reminds me daily that He sees her. He has always seen her and He loves her more than I could ever imagine.

On day two of the Bible Study, Angela instructs us to put our name into Psalm 121:3-8. I felt the Lord leading me to write this out for my daughter. I wrote the following verses in my prayer journal. I used her Ethiopian name, but since I can't share it yet I will use Mia Grace.

"[Mia Grace,] He who watches over you will not slumber, indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. [Mia Grace,] the Lord watches over you-the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. [Mia Grace,] the Lord will keep you from all harm-He will watch over your life, the Lord will watch over your coming and your going both now and forevermore." (Ps 121:3-8)