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Monday, November 29, 2010

Project Hopeful

We are going through photographs from the trip and processing all that happened over those nine days, but I wanted to post this and advocate for these dear, dear children. There are SO MANY beautiful older children all over this world who have been orphaned due to HIV. Many of them are HIV positive, but with medication, are living normal, vibrant lives. I encourage you to watch this video of Carolyn Twietmeyer as she talks about ALL of her children - 7 bio and 6 adopted. Some of her children are HIV+.

Please pray for these children and for what your love could mean to them. There are so many ways to get involved. Visit Project Hopeful's website for more informaion.

Be sure to pause the playlist at the bottome of the page . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Update from Ethiopia - Part 4

From Rob's email: On our way back yesterday we visited Kind Hearts for the last time. They waited for us about 1 1/2 hours past their typical departure time and greeted us like rock stars! I think we got some good pictures and when we left you could have ripped my heart out. Eh wed eh shah loh, Eh wed eh shah loh's all around. I love you, I love you, I love you . . .

The time at Trees of Glory has been bittersweet for us all.  This is where 'A', the little boy we sponsor, attends.  We had big hopes for what the days there would look like with him.  As it turned out, it didn't go as planned.  We had hoped they could spend a lot of time playing with him and holding him.  Here is a little of Rob's email about TOG and little 'A':

I just got up. Last night the power went out during dinner so we ate by candlelight and flashlight. It sent us to bed early which was a really good thing as we have all been exhausted. I have to make this quick because there are people in line behind me. We met 'A' yesterday and got video of us giving him his care package. He is very shy but has a great little smile. He kept his head down most of the time and I couldn't see it but he was smiling. He does not speak Amharic, but Oromifa, which  they speak in the countryside. After meeting him, Simret, the founder of Trees of Glory, told me that he was found on the streets in the village up the road, abandoned, and both of his parents are dead. He is now living with an old woman in a different village near TOG. When I heard this, I had to take a walk to regain my composure as I was devastated and wanted to put him in my suitcase and bring him home. We were only at TOG for 2 hours yesterday and handed out care packages so we didn't get to spend any one-on-one time with him but we are going back today to hang out for a lot longer. I plan to spend a lot of time with him and let him know that we love him and will come back to see him again.

'A' is very afraid and speaks very little.  We got some pictures today but he would not really interact.  He smiled as I was playing with some kids on a merry-go-round but he cried when I picked him up.

So . . . I am heartsick for this darling child.  He was 4 years old when they brought him to TOG.  Simret is the incredible woman who cares for these children and she is looking after him when he is there with her.  But, my mother's heart cannot stop weeping for him.  I look at my little boy who is the same age and cannot begin to describe the depth of grief at the thought of him alone on the streets and wandering.  Looking for food, safety, warmth, his mommy and daddy.  So many questions . . . did he see them die, what has he endured in his short life, how long was he alone?  When I tuck my children into bed, I walk away and weep some more. 

Father of the fatherless, please protect him, hold him in your hands, comfort his tiny heart . . . 

Update from Ethiopia - Part 3

This trip was spent for the most part at two schools - Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory - which have been founded and are supported by Children's Hopechest.  All of the children who attend are sponsored by families and their kindness allows these children to receive an education and one good meal a day.  They would not have access to an education otherwise and many would not have a decent meal either.  Especially at Trees of Glory which is located about 65 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa and is in a very economically poor region of Ethiopia.  This travel group had the incredible privilege of delivering care packages to each of the children at both carepoints.  Most included gifts, clothing, photos and letters from their sponsor families.  These photos were taken by Karen Wistrom (she is heading up the trip) at Kind Hearts school.   Rob's computer is, in his words "fried", so he can't download his photos.  They have taken hundreds so we'll be able to post more and hopefully a video when they get home.




Is he not the most precious little guy you've ever seen? Rob is reading his letter while the gentleman on the left (he works and teaches at the school) intreprets.

This trip has been life changing for Rob and our kids.  For us all, it has made everything 'real'.  Real people, real poverty, real beauty.  Such incredible, loving, kind people.  Such an amazing culture.  They have all been journaling A LOT and we hope to share once they get home.  Here is O---a helping act out a story for the kids:


And playing with the kids at Kind Hearts.  She is the consummate big sister.  At almost fifteen, she is such a beautiful girl inside and out.  I look forward to watching her grow into adulthood.  Big things ahead for this girl.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Update from Ethiopia - Part 2

Hubby and oldest two kiddos are setting out with Children's Hopechest on Day 3 to Kinds Hearts school. It has been a great experience so far and they are loving the time they get to spend with the kids. Here are a few photos from today (yesterday - this time difference is so confusing!)

A little "tatoo art':  



Some very sweet lovin':

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Posted by Picasa

And here is a little from the emails we've received so far:

We have been gone since 8:30 a.m. after not so much sleep last night. The kids slept pretty well but the Orthodox Christians have a call to prayer really early like 4:30 and the horns were blowing. Went to Kind Hearts, went and got goats to slaughter for lunch tomorrow, went to the Transition House and held the babies!!!!


You will absolutely love the traditional dancing but probably not so much the traditional food. Is--c tried a couple bites but one bite ended up in the toilet and the other was reluctantly swallowed. They told him it was beef but it was really goat meat which is nothing like a good filet! Ol--a ate a little bit but we all supplemented with some jerkey when we got home.


And, for those of you who really KNOW Rob, this will make you fall off your seat. From oldest daughter:

The goat meat is disgusting. It’s really rubbery and tough. They gave us raw meat and cooked meat with the injera at the traditional dinner. Dad tried the raw meat. :O


Rob has promised to type out his journal entries when they return to the Guest House tonight. I will be sure to post when/if he does. Still waiting on video. If they are able to get it downloaded, I will be sure to post it.

Hope you all have a great rest of the week!

Update from Ethiopia Part 1

Hubby and kids have been in Ethiopia since Sunday.  So far, it has been a wonderful trip.  They are just setting out on Day 3 at Kind Hearts school.  Tomorrow they head toTrees of Glory which is located about 67 kilometers outside of Addis Ababa.  Our sponsor child Abush attends school at Trees of Glory so this part of the week will be extra special.  They will have 3 days to spend with him and all of the 80+ kids at Trees of Glory. 

We attended an Ethiopian Cultural Festival last Saturday night that a local Ethiopian church holds for adoptive families.  It was an amazing experience.  The pastor was so kind and so grace-filled toward the families.  I will admit that at times I have struggled with what the Ethiopian people feel about Americans adopting their children.  Do they resent us?  Are they full of heartache for the loss of so many precious children to a continent so far away?   What do they feel?   I will try to quote something he said that has been on my mind . . . "Ethiopia is a very beautiful, very special . . . very poor country.  It has been hit hard by HIV AIDS, by famine, by poverty.  Some say there are 4 million orphans, some say there are more.  Some say there are 6 million.  I want to say that we support what you are doing.  Adoption is a very beautiful thing.  It is God's plan.  We are adopted by God if we are in Christ.  He has adopted us into His family.  We say 'who are these Americans?   Who are these people that adopt these orphans into their hearts and into their homes?  You are doing a good thing.  It is good.'"  To me, it was the voice of God confirming our decision, casting aside doubt, encouraging my heart. 

The entire evening was so special.  The beautiful women of the church prepared a HUGE spread of traditional Ethiopian food.  It was spicy, textural and overall very good.  I am in search of good Ethiopian recipes for Injera and Doro Wat if you happen across some!  They also dressed in traditional Ethiopian costume and sang Ethiopian praise songs and danced.  It was something to behold.  Let's just say American worship leaves a LOT to be desired.   There were so many precious children who had been adopted and were there with their new families.  The church community really reaches out and DESIRES so deeply to stand in the gap for adoptive families.  They have such a heart to be the thread that weaves together the child's birth culture with their new culture.  I really cannot express the depth of love and sincerity they communicated to us all.  I left full of excitement and utter longing to bring our kids home.   I have worried some about how we could teach our children (all of them) about a culture we had never truly experienced.  I left with a total God-filled peace knowing the community is there and that we will be tied together with these incredible people in the coming years - feeling blessed beyond measure by their willingness to be that real and true link.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feeling the Love

Day 1 at Kind Hearts and he is smitten already!
 
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How Do You Fit It All Into a Ziploc Bag?

Rob and our two oldest kids leave for Ethiopia in just 2 short weeks. We are excited, nervous, and just plain speechless at times thinking about what the trip will hold.

We sponsor a little boy at Trees of Glory, one of the carepoints the travel team will be visiting. I cannot put into words the feelings in my heart that Rob and kids will actually be meeting him face-to-face, giving him gifts, holding him, playing with him, loving on him. It is a once-in-a-lifetime moment and for many sponsor families, a dream that won't happen this side of heaven. Incredible.

Each sponsor family has been given the opportunity to send a care package to their sponsor child. The catch? All the gifts must fit into a gallon Ziploc bag. In order to not hurt feelings we have decided to follow suit for our little guy. My dilemma? How do you fit love and hope and the desire to give of your prosperity into a gallon baggie??? Oh, so difficult. What does he need most? What does his little 6-year old heart desire? I hope and pray that the chance to spend a few days with his "American Papa" and a brother and sister will leave them all marked for life. That he will remember their hugs and they his and that he'll have a mental image to keep forever of the family that loves him from so far away. I pray that my kids who return home will never forget their "African brother" who lives such a simple and materially sparse life, who has lost mother and father and so much more.

Kind Hearts school is the other Children's Hopechest carepoint the team will be visiting. All of the children there have been sponsored thankfully, and have been receiving food, schooling and Christian discipleship for several months. HOWEVER, as of this week, over 30 NEW CHILDREN have been enrolled at Kind Hearts. Rob and the kids, along with the team, will be meeting these new children and their profiles will be up and ready when the team returns.

If anyone has ever thought of sponsoring a child, this would be an excellent chance. Visit "Family From Afar" on our sidebar to read more about these children and how to sponsor. Or see the link here: http://family-from-afar.blogspot.com/2010/11/fantastic-news-from-ethiopia.html It is an incredible way to make HUGE difference for one child for the cost of a daily cup of Starbucks.

Lastly, THANK YOU to everyone who has given donations for this upcoming trip. Rob and kids will be taking LOADS of photos and we can't wait to share with you all where and with whom your generosity was shared. Know that you have made a difference. Your love gives tangible help, but also hope.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Isaiah's Story

Isaiah's Story from 31Films on Vimeo.

Gotcha!

As the days tick away with waiting, I can't help but wonder what it will be like when we finally meet our children. Surely, it will be a day of rejoicing and surely, once home there will be days of profound sorrow over what has been lost - especially for the older of the two. I LOVE this video. It makes me think of our Father running to meet us, and when we are ready to finally run to Him, He stands with arms wide open to catch us. I am praisin' our Abba that this little guy finally has arms to run to and a forever mommy and daddy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Waiting

We are guilty of many errors and many faults, but our worst crime is abandoning the children, neglecting the foundation of life. Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot. Right now is the time his bones are being formed, his blood is being made and his senses are being developed.
To him we cannot answer “Tomorrow”. His name is “Today”.
                                 - Gabriela Mistral, 1948

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Where committment leads, providence follows

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.  Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

                                                                   - Johann Wolfgang van Goethe

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

We are DONE chasing paper!!!!!

Well friends, we are FINALLY done chasing paper! As of Friday, September 3, 2010 we are DTE. That means "Dossier to Ethiopia", and that is such a beautiful phrase for me to type and read. Sept. 3rd is also my daddy's birthday. A good day all around!

Just got done tracking that ol' FedEx package that contains months of work and about every nitty-gritty detail of our lives thus far. It started out in Indy, traveled through Virginia, New Jersey, Paris and is currently in Dubai, AE with its next stop being . . . Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. WAHOO!!!!

We are praising God and thanking Him for all the people who have come along side us to make this possible. We want to thank you all again too.

Now we wait and pray. Please join us in praying for our children specifically. At least one of them is most certainly alive and living either in the orphanage or in a situation that will lead to them being orphaned or abandoned and placed in the orphanage. We ask for prayers for their safety, health, and that they would somehow sense that a forever mommy and daddy are coming for them very soon.

We also ask that you join us in praying for the birth mother(s). When we began this journey, we assumed that these children would be complete orphans (with both parents deceased). We now know that is not always the case. Sometimes children are abandoned due to extreme poverty, other times, the birth father has died and the birth mother is very ill (often with HIV) and knows she is dying. While tragic beyond words, there is still something very precious in knowing her wishes were granted and she was able to speak final words to the adoptive family and bless her child and know before dying that her child(ren) were safe and loved and okay. We pray that if this is the case with our adoptions, we would have the opportunity to meet and pray with her and have an interpretor to tell us her wishes and reassure her of our committment. Hard stuff.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Walk to Beautiful

In November, Hubby and our older two will be traveling to Ethiopia with Children's Hopechest. They will be visiting several carepoints. One of the places they visit will be the Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa. To be honest, I had no idea what the word 'fistula' meant. After looking at this website http://www.fistulafoundation.org/aboutfistula/faqs.html I had learned enough to break my heart. As a mom of seven, I cannot imagine the sorrow of these precious women. First, in most cases, to lose their baby and then to bear the shame of this condition. I invite you to view this video. It is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.

When Dad and the kids go, they are planning to take gifts to these beautiful women. If anyone has a desire to send something, they will gladly deliver it for you face-to-face. Some suggestions would be: chapstick, pretty scarves, cloth handbags or other pretty items. The hospital has also expressed a need for baby and toddler clothing.

Each of the travelers on the trip are allowed two, 50lb. pieces of luggage. Our plan is to pack lightly in order to have a bag and a half each for donations to the carepoints. If anyone is interested in sending donations, please contact me for suggested items. Children's Hopechest has given us a pretty detailed list with a wide variety of items.

Don't forget to scroll down and pause the music at the bottom this page. . .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Prayers Coveted

We would be so grateful for your prayers as we WAIT (patiently . . .) for our I-171 to arrive. It is the last piece of paper we need to complete our dossier and send it off to Ethiopia. Once our dossier is complete and received, we then wait for our referrals. Once the referrals are accepted by us, we will wait on a court date to state before a judge that we indeed do commit to loving, protecting and raising these two little ones up in our family. Our hearts are overflowing with anticipation for that day.

Our officer at the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security is a gal who, it seems, doesn't really have a 'passion' for her job. No sense of urgency, no real concern for just being efficient. I'd take slightly efficient at this point. I talked to her yesterday, and after first stating that she didn't know where our file was, she then back-pedaled when she realized how long she had had it in her possession. It went from being "somewhere in my office to yes, it's here on my desk." When I asked her if she had any idea of when she may get to it, she said she couldn't really say.

So . . . we are asking you to pray specifically for our Officer 'S'. Pray that she would wake up tomorrow loving her job; that she would get a new or renewed passion for the opportunity she has to bring orphans into forever families; that she would look down at her desk and see our file staring back and PICK IT UP and efficiently and favorably complete it and send it back to us.

We appreciate it so much!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Advice from a 5-Time Adoptive Momma

I had a friend once tell me that you will know you are fully living a Christ-centered life when people begin to question your sanity. It made me laugh at the time and then once I thought about it, I realized how true that really is.

Basically we all have the same choice: to live a self-centered life or to live a Christ-centered life. There are no other choices. When you choose the Christ-centered life you will find the world begins to lose its appeal because now it is Jesus, and what He wants, that becomes important in your life and this will look a lot different than the self-centered life. So those around you will question you, because the choices you make, the lifestyle you live, will no longer 'match up' with what the world says is good and with what the world says is popular. And it will make people wonder. And for some, it will even make them mad.

Today we live in a world that tells us that the ideal family size is 2.5 children. (Can someone explain to me how you even have a half a kid?) So, when you see a family walk in the door with 9 children, all from different races and ethnic groups- they begin to question. And for some, they feel justified to insult. Large adoptive families often get labeled. I have heard them called everything from 'child collectors' to being accused of being 'addicted' to adopting. I have been told that we can't save the world and asked when enough is enough.

All I can say is, if I was into collecting- I can guarantee you it would be one of those kind of nice collections you simply display on a shelf and look at. It would require little work, perhaps just an occasional dusting. It would be something rare- not 147 million of them waiting to be found.

As for adoption being an addiction- I will say one thing I know for sure- I can think of lots of things that would be a lot worse to be addicted to. Things that don't bring God glory. While yes it is true, I cannot save the entire world- that doesn't mean I shouldn't do what I can do. Imagine yourself inside of a burning building, lying on the floor, trapped, unable to help yourself. Someone dials 911- but the firefighters on call responded by saying 'Oh well, we can't save them all' and don't come to your rescue. There are 147 million orphans in this world trapped and unable to help themselves. How are you going to respond to the call? . . .

. . . Often times, besides the cost of adoption, the thing that stops people from saying yes is, you know, because it might be hard. People might look at you funny. The way you live your life might be changed or interrupted. You might have to give up something to make room for another. And, what if the child God places in your home doesn't look, act, or fit into the image you had hoped for?And, well, that would be hard. And hard is something we avoid. But can I remind you for just a minute how hard the price of our comfort is on them?

I often wonder where Christians came up with the idea that being a Christian resembled anything close to easy? I often wonder how so often we miss the entire point of what Jesus is all about? He is so much more than going to church on Sunday, memorizing verses of the Bible, wearing a cross around your neck, and praying at the dinner table.

And can I just tell you something else? Life is never going to be easy- regardless of how hard we try to put up those walls of protection, regardless of our attempt to make all the right decisions and all the right plans. And can I remind you that the greatest gifts in life did not come easy either?

When you claim to know the Lord and you call yourself a Christian you are not signing up for easy. As a matter of fact, I can almost guarantee you that God will call you out of your comfort zone, out of your ordinary existence and into a life that you never imagined for your self. It will be a life that is all about HIM...a life that that glorifies HIM- not you. So go ahead and love your God so much that you are willing to get out there, get a little crazy, not worry about what anyone thinks...Get your hands dirty

SERVE

GIVE

LOVE

Make your life COUNT. You might get hurt, you might be uncomfortable, you might not be popular-you might not even recognize yourself when He is done... but the one thing I can promise you is that it will be worth it. All.

- Amy Block


http://buildingtheblocks.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chickens and Kids

Okay, this is just too stinkin' hilarious not to share . . .

http://weloveourlucy.blogspot.com/2010/07/western-ky-state-fair-and-my-favorite.html

What We Do While We Wait - Part 2

We play . . .


Waiting for forms to come back can be so hard, but we have tried to keep busy and have fun at the same time.

Baby Girl had her first birthday this summer and it was so fun to see her eyes light up when she saw her cupcake and candle. We have cherished this time with her in her babyhood and while we are anxious beyond words to bring our new children home, we are glad to have the time to watch her grow.





We've also had a great time at the lake this year. It's a great family getaway. No t.v., no internet, sketchy phone service. Strangely, we never miss them. The two younger boys have taken to the water and Son #2 has had a blast knee-boarding and kayaking. Even though he's only 5, he just hopped in and took off. He's a better paddler than some of the older kids!






And yes, we even had fun watching the hay being cut and baled. The younger kids have been playing "King of the Mountain" and other made up games. Next year we hope to have a barn built and to be baling our own hay. Sounds like a great job for dad and almost-teenage son! :-)

We hope you all are taking some time to enjoy friends and family this summer!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What We Do While We Wait - Part 1


We work . . .


This summer has been a busy but good one. We have used our 'waiting days' as well as possible and packed them full.


In May we made strawberry jam with grandma. She is the best jam maker we know and we just can't do it without her. Something about the way she stirs. :-) We made over 45 jars of jam to put away for winter and to share with friends. So yummy!



We have been working and picking and weeding in our garden all spring and summer. It has been a great experience for the kids and they are incredible little helpers. Many hands make light work has been playing out at our house this year. Youngest son spent some quality time with mom shelling peas. The great part about a garden is that everyone can help in some way. He did a great job with this.



In June, I loaded up all seven and we went a few blocks from home to a blueberry farm. In all my years of living here I never knew it existed. Kind of a freak of nature as blueberries don't really grow well in this part of the country. Each kid grabbed a bucket or box and we picked a BUNCH of berries in a short time. I'm really starting to like the help. We are a force to be reckoned with when we're on our game. :-) I think we were in and out in 30 minutes and froze about 20 quarts from this picking.


And then there is the canning . . . always exciting as I try to remain calm and NOT blow the lid off the pressure cooker. This year we have picked and canned about 50 quarts of green beans. I only blew the lid (ring and all) off one jar while inside the canner. It sounded like the entire jar blew up in there, but when it was all done and the lid came off the canner the jar was sitting perfectly upright, beans intact. The lid and ring however, were bent and laying in the bottom of the canner. How does that happen???

We are getting ready for tomatoes next. Trying some new marinara recipes to can, making lots of fresh salsa (YUM!!!) and eating a lot of BLT's (double YUM!). This week we have been on major weed patrol and getting ready to plant turnips and more sugar snap peas for a fall crop, and considering clearing a patch for pumpkins. We are running out of time though . . .

If you're bored or hungry, stop by. We'll feed you . . . or put you to work . . . or put you to work and then feed you!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Think on This . . .

"One life on this earth is all that we get, whether it is enough or not enough, and the obvious conclusion would seem to be that at the very least we are fools if we do not live it as fully and bravely and beautifully as we can."

- Buechner

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Father's Day

This is the handsome man to whom I've had the privilege of being married for the past 15 years. I could tell you they've been 15 years full of bliss, but you'd know I was lying. I can say that we love each other more and better than we did 15 years ago and that we are solid. Life is good. I love this guy more than I ever thought possible. He's an amazing husband, father, and friend. It has been so sweet to grow up in Christ with him.

We have learned to balance one another out over the years. In the beginning we hit head on and there was a collision more than once. :-) We've mellowed . . . when I'm uptight he's calm, when he's stressed I'm calm (usually!) . . . We're getting better at marriage and parenting as the years go on. We like each other. (We don't usually look this serious . . . posing for the photographer and trying oh, so hard not to crack up!)


Of all the things I love about him, the one I love the most is his passion for being a good father. He LOVES our kids like there's no tomorrow. He takes time with them, he plays with them. Real, get-down-on-the-floor plays with them. He is serious when he needs to be, goofy when he can't help but be, and tender most of the time. In the beginning, we said we'd like to have four kids. We wanted a big family. That's one of the reasons I married him. Couldn't imagine not having a house full of babies.

Exactly one month into married life, we were thrilled to find out we were pregnant for baby #1. She stole his heart - and mine. Neither of us would have believed it was possible to feel so much love. She's the mother hen, helper, sometime sassy, mostly sweet, dream of a firstborn daughter.


When she was about two, baby #2 came along. A son. It was tense for a minute - he was born with the umbilical cord wrapped tight around his neck. You've never seen such a shade of blue. Not a moment I'd like to relive, but once the cord was cut and unwound, he was perfectly fine. Still hates to have anything around his neck. No turtlenecks for this boy! He is his dad's right hand man and such a help to his mama. He plays a mean guitar, a mean piano and a mean game of army guy with his brothers. They worship him.


When baby #2 was about two yrs. old, baby #3 came along. A daughter. We were on a roll. She was so sweet. Jumpy, but sweet. When hubby so much as sneezed, it frightened her into a frenzy of sobbing. She has grown into a such a neat girl. This one loves her siblings (spoils them!), loves kittens (is bucking for one right now) and keeps us laughing. She has a talent for drama - in a good way. :-) She is a such a blessing.


When #3 was 21 months, baby #4 came along. We were done. Really. She was a beauty. The biggest brown eyes you've ever seen. She was sweet, smiled all the time, learned quickly and LOVED to follow her big sisters and brother around. She was just plain EASY and still is. This girl is good for a giggle, a witty comment and puts together a mean bouquet. Sometimes when I catch her sitting with a serious look on her face, I stare at her and when she notices, she just rolls with laughter. Unless she's mad. Happens very rarely, but when it does . . .


We were so blessed. We had our four - all healthy, all beautiful (I admit it, I'm biased), all sweet. After a year or so, we started getting that baby longing again. Who came up with the number four? Why did we pick that number and who said we couldn't have one more?

Soon after, we were so excited to learn we were pregnant for #5. Five would be good. We could surely do five. Well, a few weeks into the pregnancy, we miscarried. It was a huge shock and disappointment. Sad beyond words. It was curious the reactions of people. I remember one friend saying, "You know, people won't be that sympathetic since you already have four other kids." Didn't really help at the time.

I remember being afraid that hubby would say, "That's enough. Let's just be happy with four." But he didn't. Something caught fire in both of us and we longed for another child more than ever. Something was stirring in our hearts. We were led by God to a few books and a few families and challenged by the notion that God is the Creator of life and who were we to thwart His hand? We started searching the Scriptures, praying about this idea of family "planning" and walking through a time of great searching.

Soon after, we were oh, so incredibly thrilled to find out we were again expecting. There was never a baby more longed for than this little guy. He was born on Labor Day a week and a half late. It was labor, baby, and I mean labor. He was born "sunny side up" after two hours of pushing (can anyone say epidural???) and weighed a whopping 9 lbs. 8 oz. Almost two pounds bigger than all of the others. He has a heart full of joy and just looking at him makes me smile. He grabs all the fun he can out of life and makes me stop lots of times to refocus. This kid gets joy.


We were pretty content with five. Not sure where God was leading us, but sure we had time to figure it out.

When said joyful son above was five months old, we got a little 'surprise'. :-) Baby #6 was on the way. I drove to hubby's office to let him in on the secret. He was more than slightly shocked. How did that happen??? We just looked at each other and cracked up. We were thrilled. Then, we were shocked that we were thrilled and laughed some more.

This little guy was born a warrior from day one. For every ounce of joy his big brother has, he has an equal amount of passion and 'fight'. He marches around the house commanding troops, shouting out orders and sword fighting with anyone who will take the challenge. He loves to laugh and play, but has the personality of a general. We move from exasperation to wonder with this one. Such a neat little guy. I can't stand the thought of him growing up, can't wait to see what he will become.

By now, we knew that we would welcome with joy as many blessings as God chose to send our way. Our hearts were open. Somewhere along the way, we learned that more children did not bring chaos. We got more organized, strangely. I think we were forced to. It was actually easier having six than it had been with three.

We grew to understand that love does not divide when you have a lot of children. Or a lot of friends. Love multiplies. Our cup was running over and we were thrilled.

When kiddo #6 was about two, we again miscarried. This time was more sad in ways (I saw his or her little heart beating a week before), less sad in others. We knew God was sovereign in ALL things. The fear was not there this time that hubby would say, "No more." He loved his little ones so much. We both realized what we would have missed if we would have stubbornly stuck to "our plan".

A year later, we were so happy to find out baby #7 was on the way. Her little heart was beating away, the danger time was past, and all looked good. We were ecstatic to welcome her into our hearts and family.

This one is just the love of our lives. Being 3 1/2 years younger than her brother has given her the special spot of being the true baby right now. I often think about God's timing with this one. Being number seven has been more than okay for her. What she may have missed in 'firsts' by being at the tail end, she has gained in attention from six siblings who think she hung the moon. The challenge for us all is not to spoil her rotten!


All this to say, I LOVE my husband. I love him for the ways mentioned, for the seven cuties you see above, for his willingness and desire to bring two new children into our hearts and into our family.

I thank God that He gave me THIS man to father our children; THIS man to share my dreams of being a mom of many and THIS man to share a passion for the orphans around the world.

The day he said, "Let's go for it," I fell in love with him all over again.

Psalm 127:3-5 - "Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;"

Moving Along

Our homestudy report is done, approved and here in our hot little hands! Monday it goes off to U.S. Immigration and then we wait. We are praying for efficient employees and a quick return with the required paperwork to add to our dossier. THEN . . . its off to Ethiopia with our dossier. We will then wait (we're becoming very good at waiting!) until we hear from our agency that we have a referral of a sibling group or two unrelated children. It is so good to be almost done with our end of the process. We continue to be amazed at God's provision and His timing and how He increases our faith daily in so many areas. This whole process has stretched us as a couple, as parents and as individuals. Sometimes in hard and uncomfortable ways, sometimes in ways that are so sweet. Always in ways that are good.

One Year Later

This is the sweet little babe that was the final tipping point for our family to step out in faith. What God had placed on our hearts was given wings after seeing her "Gotcha Day" video. I am forever amazed at how God has used one little girl, her birth mother and her adoptive family to change the world for so many orphans.

You'll want to pause the Playlist at the bottom of this page.


Lucy Lane Gotcha Day - One Year Later from kristi on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Soaking up Sun and Laying Eggs






Oh, have you ever seen such beauties??? We went on a little walk down the driveway yesterday. These sweet mamas were out for a little sun and egg laying. They were all very large (about 12" in diameter), very mossy and very unamused by us. :-) As the mama of seven, I could relate. I would hate to have eight people staring at me while trying to give birth.

These girls may look sweet (doesn't Beauty #1 almost look like she's smiling?) but don't be deceived. They were just waiting for a reason to stick that long, scaly neck way out and open that mouth to snap down on a finger, a toe, a nose . . .




Will the Wonder Cat meets Stella the Snapping Turtle. This cat knows no fear. He dances with Coyotes, prowls all night, sleeps in the garage all day. He almost met his match this time. :-)


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Willing Hearts and Walkin' Shoes

These are the cool and colorful feet of our first six children . . . .


. . . and the sweet little baby feet of number seven . . .



I want what's best for the seven sets of feet you see above. I want to get there in safety and quite a bit of comfort and really, really want to get there with all my little "feet" happy and content and just full of gratitude for this great life they have. Smiling. Grateful. Happy. Loving Jesus every minute. Not arguing/bickering/talking back/whining. (I know, a TOTAL fantasy.)

It occurred to me this week that my kiddos have gotten way down deep into a pattern of complaining lately. It also occurred to me that I have too. Hmmmmm . . .

I've been pondering this a LOT over the past few days. Hubby and I have had some good conversations and we've decided it's time for some major corrective training with the kids - and ourselves. We're going into a zero tolerance mode for whining, complaining and bickering. At the heart of all of these is one very large and SELFISH heart crying out in a hundred ways ME, ME, ME. All of us in our own sinful way have been carrying on like this. Oh.my.goodness. It is amazing how we justify our own desires. I have to admit, we are a pretty creative bunch. It's not easy to demand your own way and sound humble in the process!

I sit in complete wonder that we as people can have so much, yet whine and complain with such vigor. I am guilty as charged.

The thing that weighs heavy on my heart is this: You often hear people who have visited third-world countries say that the people there are so full of love and life and joy despite their poverty. Usually you hear them say that they learned what true joy was by watching and interacting with these people. How can that be? We have everything we need/want/long for and more, yet as a society are the most miserable and discontented folks on earth. How can that be? Our poverty is not measured in lack of goods or food or home or family. But maybe our poverty is something even worse. Maybe our poverty is poverty of the soul. We don't NEED God, really. I mean, of course we do, but there are lots of days when we think we don't. We act like we don't.

The other night when we were reading the Bible together, we stopped to talk about a passage on prayer. Oldest daughter looked frustrated and when I asked her what she was thinking, she replied, "I don't even know what to pray for. Our life is so easy." I can't really describe the feeling that washed over me. It felt a lot like failure. And poverty.

Hubby has often said, half joking, "Let's sell it all." I, half joking, say "Okay." Then, I begin to think of all the reasons we shouldn't. Some of them are good, some are a stretch. I tell you, I am the MOST creative in this bunch. :-)

I can't wait to go and get these kids and bring them home and love them and protect them and be Christ to them. My heart is there more and more. My heart is ever more thinking of the widow too. How can we help her keep her babies, keep her home, survive in her corner of the world. I want Him to teach me what it means to want more of Him and less of me. I want my kids to get that.

How will this life look in five years? Ten? I don't know anymore. I used to be pretty sure. We had a plan. When hubby says "Let's sell it all," I find myself wondering more and more what that would look like . . .

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Birth Order and Love

This is written by Heidi Weimer, a mom of 4 bio kids and 6 adopted (all from Ethiopia). All of her adopted children are older than, same age as, or younger than her bio kids. Meaning - they are all mixed in, all ages, birth order shaken all to heck. It is a very common fear, I think, for people to talk themselves out of adoption because of what it may mean to their birth kids, or their family life as they know it, or whatever. I know for sure it weighed on our minds for quite a while. This is a 'shake it up' post by her, and one that made us both think long and hard about some things . . .


A Greater Capacity

Every day I receive emails from potential adoptive parents and post-adoptive families asking for advice, support, feedback, direction, and information regarding adoption. It thrills us to be able to point people in the right direction, advise families in the process, and pray for those who are preparing to live out James 1:27. This is the ministry God has given to us, and we are stoked. Our vision is to serve as full-time adoption advocates, and we are making real steps in that direction. Soon we will be operating through our We Have Room web site, which will act as a resource for those stepping into the adoption world, those who are just getting their feet wet, and those who are swimming in the post-adoption sea, sometimes raging and sometimes of glee. We feel honored to be able to be used even in just a small way and to let others know, "Hey, we've been there."

One email that I receive a few times every week sounds a little something like this: "Heidi and Kirk, Your story has been very encouraging to us, as we also feel led to adopt older kids or a sibling group, but I am just very scared of what it might do to our family, how it will affect our current kids, and what kind of short- and long-term implications it might have. Can you tell me how your biological kids adjusted to being knocked out of their birth order? How did your oldest feel about no longer being the oldest? I'm afraid I'm going to be taking away from them something that is legitimately theirs and I'm scared of what that will do to their emotions/personality/self-worth/security/what-have-you. I'm afraid they will feel ripped off."

To each and every person reading this post who knows the concrete conviction of being called to care for the older orphans yet also bears the weight of the accompanying thoughts of fear, I want you to know this...Please hear me loud and clear, as we have now SIX times over displaced our "original" kids' birth order:

You are NOT taking anything AWAY from your birth children. Instead, what you are doing is imparting to them something eternal: You are expanding their capacity to love. Think about that for a minute before you read anything else. How do you plan to teach your child to love others unconditionally and in total compassion without giving them the opportunity to do so? I'm telling you now, You CAN'T.

My biological children have a greater capacity of love in their hearts than I could ever impart to them by just giving them a safe Christianity, by maintaining their status quo, by simply modeling "godliness" as parents (as if that's the end-all be-all for a Christian family). My kids...all of them...have lived out self-sacrifice and understand (because they live it!) that laying down one's life does not steal anything from us. That is the lie of the devil, who would have us believe that sacrifice is not worth it; that there is nothing for us in return; that God doesn't really mean what He says when He said to His followers that "anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. [Because] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:38-39).

Do you really believe that? That whoever LOSES his life for Jesus's sake, for Jesus the Orphan's sake, will actually FIND it? Ask yourself honestly. Because you might answer YES prematurely. I have no doubt that you might believe it for yourself, but do you really believe it for your children, too? That if they "lose" their "place" in the family that Jesus will instead impart to them LIFE? REAL life???

What is birth order anyway but just a sequence of how your child came to you? Let's not make an idol of that sequence. Because that's what it becomes...an IDOL. Something standing in the way of you taking up the Cross to follow Him, to BE JESUS in this world. Let's not place a value on birth order that God did not intend to be there.

Consider the older orphan. Consider the sibling groups. Consider the ones who are not often considered.

And whatever you do on your adoption journey, PLEASE I beg you, do NOT steal from your children the opportunity for their love capacity to be expanded. Do not deny them the true gift of learning early in life that "My life is not my own."

When your feisty and spunky 7-year-old biological daughter, who is now the middle child of 9 after being knocked down to #5 from #2, pleads "Please, Mommy, Please!!! I want another sister my age!!! Can we PLEASE adopt again?!!," your heart will beat out of your chest, not just because you can envision another child saved, but because you know that your daughter will NEVER EVER live a limited, safe Christianity. She won't even know what that means. In fact, she won't even have the capacity do so.

And all because you didn't limit her, either. You didn't limit God.Give your children the gift of the greater capacity to love. Let it ripple out into the future. Let it change the world. "

Friday, May 14, 2010

Prayers

Well, things are moving very quickly here these days. Many people who are adopting through our agency are receiving referrals much faster than they anticipated. The standard wait time for a referral is from 8 to 12 months from when a dossier is sent to Ethiopia. We are seeing several people in our America World Yahoo Group receiving referrals within 3-4 months of sending their dossier. It has been a really neat thing as many of the children are older, many have special needs and many have been waiting for a long time to be adopted. It is overwhelming to see how many people are willing to open their hearts and their lives to this mission. A good percentage of them for the second or third time. It is clear from talking with them that they have been so blessed by their experiences.

Tonight, we are asking for prayers for a potential scenario for our adoption. We would really covet prayers for clarity and a sense of assurance for some decisions we need to make in the next week or so. Sorry to be so vague, but we cannot give details at this point.

We cannot wait for the day when we have our referrals and can share their sweet, sweet faces with you all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Giving Thanks and Paper Chasing






We had our first garage sale two weeks ago. Thankfully, the rain didn't keep people away and it was a lot of fun and a success in so many ways. Oldest son spent a few really great days with my dad making daggers and swords to sell. He got some quality time with grandpa in his wood shop and learned how to use power tools. A boy's dream come true. They're two peas in a pod - like to work alone and love to build - so this was just a great time all around for both of them. The swords were just the icing on the cake. :-) Oldest son brought them home, painted them and got his sign ready for garage sale day. He sold every one he made and took orders for more. He's well on his way to saving for his airfare! Here's a photo of his sign. Have to admit it had me choked up for a minute. This boy LOVES his grandpa.





We had so many friends donate items to sell and were just overwhelmed with the kindess of so many people. Our good friends came over both days and stayed ALL day to help. It was such an amazing gesture of friendship and support and boy, they were a HUGE help. Their oldest son is a whiz at math and was a super cashier. Our middle girls and their daughter were the snack bar queens. They made about 20% of the total sales with their cookies and Ethiopian coffee! We had Africa-shaped sugar cookies that I made the nights before and delicious butterscotch oatmeal cookies provided by our friends. They were a big hit!






Our homestudy report is written up and is under review by our local agency. We should get a copy next week and once it's ok'd by us and our main agency, we send our I-600A off to U.S. Immigration. Once they send back their approval, we're ready to send our dossier off to Ethiopia!!! We've had a really smooth time of gathering paperwork. One-by-one we've checked off the boxes with no snags so far. It seems that Indiana is one of the better states to live in for adoption. We've heard horror stories of other states and the WEEKS it takes to get forms returned. Indiana is at the top of the scale for speed. Love that!

We all got our passport applications sent out today. Have to tell ya, the lady at the post office looked like she wanted to run when she knew why all 9 of us were there. :-) It was seriously funny. She was afraid. Very afraid. Luckily, we had all of our photos already taken at Costco, or she may have fainted on the spot. She kept saying, "This is going to be a lot of writing." We all just smiled and waited. I think she thought the kids would start climbing the walls or something before she could finish. We scared her. A lot. They were well behaved though and at some point went out to watch a little video in the van. They all came back at the end to give their sworn oath that they were, in fact, who they claimed to be and we were done. I'm pretty sure she went on break immediately after we left. LOL!!!

The referrals for our agency are happening really fast right now. That is GREAT news for so many kids and waiting families. Lots of little ones and sibling groups being adopted into their forever families. If these time frames continue, we could have these kiddos home sooner than we first thought. We're trying not to get our hopes up, but it's exciting to know we're so close to having our dossier ready to go.

We're officially approved for two children ages 0-4. This could be a set of twins, a sibling group of two that fit that age range, or possibly two unrelated children. Our agency does not allow "artificial twinning" (adopting two unrelated children of the same age), so we're just waiting to see how God works this out. It gets me crazy excited because I know He already knows the EXACT children He has ordained for our family and our family for those children. From each and every date that a document is finalized, to each and every person we meet in this process, to each and every person that has come along side us in support, we have sensed His hand and are resting securely in that.

We continue to pray daily for this whole process. We pray for our children, not knowing if they are born, or yet to be born. We pray for their birth mother's heart and health and if she is no longer living, that she somehow knows her precious babies will be dearly loved and cared for. We pray prayers of gratitude for good friends and family and your support and prayers as you have come along side us. We appreciate all of you more than you'll ever know.

Have a great weekend!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Garage Sale

Next weekend (Friday and Saturday) is our first big garage sale. We'll open our doors (gate!) at 9:00 a.m. and close at 3:00 p.m. each day. Tell all your friends, acquaintances, anyone you meet. We've had some great stuff donated and LOTS of it! THANK YOU to all of you who donated or are planning to. We'll take stuff up to the last minute and are just overwhelmed with how kind people have been to donate. The younger kids are going to have a lemonade/sweet tea/Ethiopian coffee and cookie stand too. They are soooo excited to have this opportunity to raise funds for their air fare.

Round one of the home study is complete - round two is tomorrow. I made a good dinner and we ate together and had a lengthy discussion on the potentialities of some adjustment issues and difficult children, etc. A lot of worst-case scenario conversation. I feel a weird sense of relief talking about that. Maybe because there is so much information on orphans and adoption that leads you to believe it will all be wonderful and amazing when you rescue this child. I firmly believe it will be wonderful and amazing and oh boy, I cannot wait. But, being a mom to seven, I'm also a realist. :-) Talking realistic talk makes me want to take a deep breath and relax. I can do real. I can do hard. I really don't do pretend very well. Too much pressure.

Tomorrow is the one-on-one with the kids - this should be good - and then Rob and I meet with our caseworker separately. Once this is complete, assuming it will be a favorable study, we can breathe a temporary sigh of relief. Then it's back to the paper chase and waiting on Immigration so we can complete our Dossier and get it sent on to the Ethiopian government. We're eager but also thankful for the time to spend with Georgia in her baby phase. She is so sweet right now.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Home Study

We have the remainder of our home study Friday night and Sunday afternoon. We would love your prayers for these two days. Pray our younger ones BEHAVE (I won't mention a certain four year old, but he knows who he is!). The first evening will be mostly Rob and I so we're hoping for kids who are quiet, well-behaved, sweet, normal, not-bickering, love my sisters and brothers . . . you get the point! Again, I say, PRAY. :-)

Sunday will entail our case worker talking with each child individually. Again, a certain four year old needs your prayers. I think I heard him say something like, "I don't want no orphan babies" to his sister last week. Note the grammar. He told me this week, "I want a girl orphan baby and a boy orphan baby." Oh please let that be that boy who shows up Sunday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Worth every 67 minutes

David Platt, the pastor of the Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, has been a favorite of ours for a long time. He lays it out there and leaves you unable to remain neutral. You either love his message, or hate it - want to rise up or sit down, cover your ears and pretend you didn't hear it.

This is from his "Radical" Series. All of the sermons in this series are excellent.


The Gospel Demands Radical Giving - David Platt from Together for Adoption on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Traditions



We started a new tradition in our house this Easter weekend. Since the kids love hands-on learning, we decided to try this project. (A big thanks to one of my bloggy friends!)

First, we took an egg and talked about how it symbolizes new life - how we have new life in Christ if we believe. This was an 'aha' moment - as in, "so this is where that whole Easter egg thing came from." We took the eggs we had dyed earlier in the week and talked about their different colors, the way each one cracked differently and then about how each one of us is made one-of-a-kind by God, in His image, and how He takes delight in each of us. They thought it was pretty hilarious coming up with what made each sibling special. Lets just say there is some real talent in this family. Talent even I didn't know about. :-) Then we read Zephaniah 3:17 - "The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

He DELIGHTS in each one of us. He REJOICES over us with singing. I love that.




Then, we had a great discussion about us - people - and how our hearts are filled with YUCK (sin). We cracked some eggs and played in the goo and noticed how the egg is also filled with YUCK (yolk!). The good news? Even in our "yuck", God still loves us. We read Romans 3:23 and then 5:8 and learned that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We had a great discussion about Christ's sacrifice and what it was for. It's pretty amazing how children 'get' that so much more clearly than grownups sometimes.



Then, we poured melted wax into the empty egg shell (I put a wick in each one first). We talked about how God fills us with his Holy Spirit when we believe and how he fills us with JOY too. How he came to give us new life and how he wants us to spend time with him each day by praying and reading his word. Ava read Romans 12:2 - "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and aprove what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

After that, we took a break, had a snack and watched some Butler basketball! (We had to give the wax time to set up.)






Later that evening, we came back together to light the candles. Eliza read John 8:12 - When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Then, Olivia read Matthew 5:14-16 - "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

It was pretty amazing to see those little eggs, filled with wax and burning in the dark room. I have to say, it was one of the most poignant Easters ever for me. Such a simple way of describing the gospel. A priceless moment seeing those sweet little faces glowing in the candle light.

I hope all of you had a great Easter.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Something to Think About

"My friends, adoption is redemption. It's costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him." --Derek Loux

New Jewelry Designs







These are the fundraising necklaces I've designed for our adoption. I'm also very willing to customize and put any photo(s) and/or sayings you'd like in the pendant. They would make a great mother's pendant with baby's photo one one side and name and birth date on the back. If you're interested in a custom pendant, leave me a note in the comments section and I'll get back to you. All I need is a photo sent via email and the text you'd like on the back. These are 1"x1" glass pendants with a silver solder frame, made by me. Cost is $25.00 each. They come with a 'dog tag' type chain. These are water resistant, but not waterproof and should not be worn while bathing or swimming. :-)