Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great books

This is probably our last post for 2010- wow--tomorrow, we head to the mountains of Wyoming, leaving a little early to avoid a nasty ND storm coming our way. I've been told not to blog about leaving town, but since I have a great house sitter, no worries..he will be here the entire time we're gone..

I am rereading one of my two favorite books of the year, "What He Must Be ...if he wants to marry my daughter," by Voddie Baucham Jr. As we have a house full of pre-teens and one true teenager, we are constantly reading and praying about how to guide our children through the next 8-10 years. This book is definitely on my read and re-read list. I'm paraphrasing here, but he states that the current dating culture is a warm-up to divorce, with young adults having many mini-marriages that they easily walk away from when the going gets tough. Eye opening, isn't it? Mike and I have been talking to our kids about these type of issues for some time now, but it's so nice to have another person to reference. We both wish we would have avoided the dating culture when we were teenagers (to think my husband was one locker away all throughout high school--a bit humbling). I highly recommend this book, if you are at all interested in your daughter marrying a Christian man, or if you are raising a young Christian man, who could possibly marry OUR DAUGHTER.

The other book that I can't get enough of and have read over and over is RADICAL, by David Platt. This book resonantes with us right now, as we try to live radically different from the vision of the world...granted, we fail miserably a lot of the time, but again, having a reference that refers back to Biblical principles is so appreciated!! The book takes us from theology to application-

So, if you're trying to read more and grow more this next year, check out these two books- you'll probably be reading them over and over again like me. Happy New Year from the Sweeneys!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

This leaves it all on the table

The blog writer I got this video from signs her posts, "until they are all fed.." I'd like to add, "until they are all fed and have a home." Are you remembering to pray for Micah's friend and his little sister?

Monday, December 27, 2010

How many days until camp?

I hear that question again and again throughout the day..Our biggest 5 kids will be heading to Winterama this week-one of the highlights of Christmas break for E, J, and K and another new adventure for Micah and Leah. Since they've been home, they've always had one of us in the house all night. This week, though, they will take a shot at Christian camping, Camp Bethel style. They'll spend two nights and three days at Camp Bethel, doing all things snow related while continually being directed back towards Jesus. We are excited for them, they are excited to go...especially since E,J and K know the ropes and will be there with them.

Mike and I will be staying a few miles away, with all of our littles, having our own winter adventure, to include sledding and snowmobiling. We will be close enough to check in, if needed, but having our own fun if the kids are doing fine.

Wyoming here we come!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

"Thank you Mom for coming to Ethiopia to get me. I love you very much. Merry Christmas." These words were written in a Christmas card to me from my son, Micah...As I watch our family this Christmas, I am overwhelmed by the love I have for all of my children...

We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!! Let the message of Christ's birth for YOU resonate throughout your entire year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Christmas Wish

Boy, are we ever in full swing of Christmas here- even with buying only a few gifts for the kids, a few gifts x 9 kids is a lot of gifts!! More on this in a minute...

This morning, I had to compete with Micah and Kael to run on my treadmill --it is so nice to see them working out together and getting along so well. We have seen an amazing transformation in the last few weeks.. We are definitely a family. Our kids get along just like they've been together their whole lives. My boys all have a blast together. My two littlest girls are becoming fast friends, and spend all day together, laughing and playing. They are constantly holding hands and wearing matching clothes. E, J, and Leah spend so much time together and LOVE each other.. and yet..the ones left behind are constantly on our hearts, especially as we see what love can do for a child..

So, our family's Christmas wish is for other kids to have a home, especially one young man and his little sister, who still reside at Kids Care Orphanage. Can you all join us in praying for this boy and his little sister? He is Micah's best friend and I know that no other material present would mean more to my son than to know that his friend has a family..he's almost too old to stay at the orphanage --which means he could end up on the street - NOT ON OUR WATCH--

We have comitted to praying for them daily and hope you all will join us too. I know that God answers prayers... By the way, this young boy has the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Fun weekend

Janika and I returned from San Diego last night at 3:30 a.m, after many, many delays and one missed flight. It was her thank you weekend- to thank her for all of her help during our two trips to Ethiopia this summer. She really wanted to travel with me to ET, but the tickets were so expensive and she knew her Daddy needed her here to help cook (she's an incredible cook). SO, about 3 weeks ago, Mike decided that Janika needed to take a trip as a thank you and for the two of us to spend some one on one time--I am so very thankful. It was a blast, even with the travel nightmare getting home.

Late Friday night, Janika got to meet Janika, the young lady she was named after.. We thought we were having two boys and a girl but after they were born, we learned that we had two girls and a boy. Mike came in to tell me the news and tell me how beautiful they all were. I asked him, "Did you name her?" He replied, "Yes, Janika Rae, is that ok?" You see, the other Janika was the daughter of a dear friend and Mike and I got to spend some fun times with she and her sister before we had our kids. She even took me for her third grade show and tell, "this is my friend Stacy, she has THREE babies growing in her tummy." That third grade class got quite the show, seeing my sweet babies' faces on ultrasound at about 17 weeks.

Jani got to see Balboa Hospital, where she was born and see the house we lived in when she was a baby. We then spent the day at Sea World. Like I said, this was a super fun trip and I loved getting the time alone with her (or somewhat alone, as her sister kept texting me from home asking how things were going- ha).
Mike held down the homefront and the kids here had so much fun- you see, when the Mommy's gone, they get a little spoiled from the Daddy. They were all smiles this morning when I finally got out of bed and told me all about their weekend.
For my curly headed kids at home, this trip was especially important. They need to know that when I leave, I will come back. Not only will I come back, but I will come back VERY HAPPY to see them all- the hugs were sweet all the way around.
Finally, it was a thrill to see so many service men and women. In North Dakota, it is rare for us to see someone in uniform, but not in San Diego! We met the nicest men on the airplanes and heard about their deployments to Afghanistan and met a rescue swimmer who is stationed in Japan. For Janika, it was fascinating, to be able to talk with them and hear some of their stories. As a former Navy wife, I really appreciate what these men and women are doing for our country.

Friday, December 17, 2010

That 4 month mark

In each of our adoptions, the four month mark has been huge. It seems that at 4 months home, the kids understand most of what is said to them and they are making huge strides in their spoken English. I think it's about 4 months home that they start to feel like they really are in their forever family and start trusting enough to share their stories. Sometimes these stories are funny, but for our kids, the stories revealed at the 4 month mark break our hearts. We watched Gavin come alive at 4 months home, sharing, drawing pictures about his former life and often acting things out. Now, we're watching as our newest kids share their stories. There isn't as much acting out as there is just raw emotion. These stories are their stories, so they won't be shared here, but I know there are millions of children out there still living what our kids have been through. It is heartbreaking, it is HARD and yet it brings us all closer together. The Mama Bear comes out a little as I know of instances where they've been mistreated and it makes me want to ACT. Right now, the way we can ACT is to advocate for more children to find safe, loving homes. We are praying diligently for more families to open themselves up to the miracle of adoption. I honestly think it's a miracle, not just for the children, but for the families who welcome them in.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

urgent need

Here's another baby with need for a family. Can you welcome a child into your home for Christmas?

This information comes from Shepherd's Crook Ministries and I have received permission from them to post this here on our blog.

Another baby in need of a home has come to our attention. A couple near Columbus, Ohio, is expecting their second child, a caucasian baby boy with spina bifida, by the end of this month (December 2010). Because of their other very young child, the birth parents have decided that they cannot parent a child with special needs, and so they are seeking an adoptive family for this little boy. As you read the following details about his situation, please consider prayerfully whether you or someone you know might be his forever family.

He has been diagnosed with myelomeningocele spina bifida, and the doctors are planning to keep him in the hospital for one to two weeks after he is born, even though they do not anticipate any complications with the delivery. While this form of spina bifida is the most serious, it can be treated well here in the States with careful observation from the outset.

The birth parents would prefer to have an open adoption, but their primary concern is that he be placed in a loving, caring family. There is no agency involved with this adoption, so it would be handled as a private adoption. (Because of that, it will be incumbent upon the adoptive family to pay the expenses for the attorney who will represent the birth parents. This is standard procedure in a private adoption.) The eventual adoptive family will need to have a complete—or nearly complete—home study when they come to get this boy, which would be in approximately three to four weeks. Due to the number of variables remaining in this case, we are unable to provide an estimate of the cost at this point.

If you would like to investigate this further, please submit a family profile and picture to Please join us in praying for this little one, that God would bring his family forward soon.

In Christ,


Administrative Assistant

Monday, December 13, 2010

an Amazing story- but isn't that just like our God?

When we adopted Gavin last year, we knew we were growing our family. What we didn't know, though, was that he would have 4 very dear friends from the same village who would also join families here in the U.S, families that we love like our own. Last March, the Bancroft Family welcomed all of us to Indianapolis to bring these children back together. We all had a common goal, to reunite our children with their friends and find out as much as we could about our own child's backgrounds. While we were there, Eric Bancroft said he felt like he would go to Ethiopia by the end of the year, to try and find some answers for our children and to share the love of Jesus with our children's families.

He didn't have much to go on, just pictures of our children, stories from each and a lot of prayer. Last week, Eric made the trek to Ethiopia, and traveled to the area our kids were from. From what he has said, there are over 3,500 hundred villages in the region. He spent days hiking up and down and driving from area to area. Finally, he got a lead that led him driving down a village road, to one of the most remote villages in the area, a village that only speaks Bench (the language our children came home speaking).

He and his guides saw two old men walking down the road. As he pulled over and started conversing with them, it was apparent that one of the men was the uncle of one of the boys (thank you, Lord). When Eric showed him the photo albums of all of the children, the uncle named each one of the children and talked about their families in Ethiopia. He then arranged for Eric to come back the next day to meet with each one of the families.

I can't put into words the excitement and relief we felt when we got the text, "I found it!" He was able to spend several hours with Gavin's family, get his entire life story on video and take pictures of all of the things we've seen in Gavin's hand drawn pictures and stories. We will know what the river looks like, what his house looks like, what his friends and relatives look like. More importantly, his family there was able to hear Eric tell them stories about Gavin (he could tell them, "He's eaten at my table") so they know he is doing well and is well loved here. They loved pictures of Gavin in his glasses.
I can just picture Eric, who is a pastor, sharing over and over how God also loves them and wants to adopt them as well. As he posted in his blog, the region gave him a great gift, the gift of his son and to say thank you, he will share the greatest gift he knows, the love of our Jesus.

Please pray for our friend, Eric and his family, as they transition back into having him home and he weeds through the hours of footage of video and pictures that he has. We are forever grateful to him, for the gift he has given our son and to those other children that we have come to love as well.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

just because

We woke up to -27 wind chill and tons of snow. Even though this was taken several days ago, it is how we will all be dressed for the next few months!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

post that had to be shared

I follow several family's blogs- mostly fellow adoptive families from AWAA. This morning, the Martin Family posted about their experiences in China, picking up their adopted son, Judah. They are there during this Christmas Season, seeing secular Christmas decorations in all of the stores, yet no REAL understanding of why we celebrate Christmas. When Mike worked there 7 years ago, he made many of the same observations, seeing hopelessness all around, people decorating their homes for Christmas, incorporating trees, lights and Santa, and yet not seeing the REAL HOPE that comes with the babe in a manger. I can remember seeing face after face, when we were there, going about their daily lives, and yet no joy to be found. Those that worked with Mike often commented at how joyful we were. It really is Christ in us, not anything we do on our own power. I pray that those here around us will see the hope that the BABE gives this Christmas Season and take that hope to others, in need.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A little different look at Advent

We have an amazing God story at the Sweeney house- hoping to share it next week. Until then, enjoy the video!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

All I Really Want for Christmas

This is one of our favorite songs at my house. My girls sang it in church two years ago and every year at this time, they sing it around the house. It's a great reminder to us all about what many kids really want for Christmas.I can't listen to it without crying...You'll know why when you hear it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

WOW--Family From Afar

Sometimes, I read things on other's blogs that are truly life changing. Karen Wistrom's post this morning was one of those posts. I know I've talked about Children's HopeChest and their sponsorship programs..these programs truly change the life of the child who is sponsored. Karen's posting this morning beautifully documents just how these children and their families are blessed by sponsorhip. The story can be accessed off of my blog in two ways, either by clicking on the I Sponsor a Child at Kind Hearts button or by scrolling down to my blog list and clicking on Family From Afar..


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day- You can make a difference

Did you see the latest People Magazine article on the Twietmeyer Family? They have adopted several children with HIV and started Project Hopeful to encourage other families to do the same.

Carolyn Twietmeyer is leading a Visiting Orphans trip to Ethiopia and Uganda in April to LOVE on kids with HIV. See the trip information below. If you want more information on these mission trips, look up Visiting Orphans, an amazing mission organization, that is a sister partner with our adoption agency, America World.

You can make the difference in the lives of children by showing them that someone cares enough to come to them and love on them.

You can join Dates: April 13 - April 23, 2011

Leader: Carolyn Twietmeyer
Location: Uganda & Ethiopia
Details: This exciting trip is in partnership with Project Hopeful. This amazing ministry works to bring awareness to orphans with HIV and to promote adoption of HIV waiting children. The trip will focus on HIV orphanages in Ethiopia like the Mother Theresa HIV Orphanage in Addis Ababa, another project through Project Hopeful called Hopeful House. This team will also partner with Project 61 to work with the children in the dump in Addis Ababa.
Cost: $3400 - $3600 (cost varies dependent on flights)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Adoption month winding down

It's the last day of National Adoption Month, but for our family, advocating for orphans to find homes is ongoing.

E, J, and K and I are reading some great books as part of our Sonlight Core 7. Several of these books have talked about the slave trade. As we read these books, my kids ask, "How could these men have called themselves Christians and acted this way to another human being?" In his book, Radical, David Platt says, (and I'm completely paraphrasing here) that as we look back at the slave trade and ask these questions, Christians 100 years from now will look back at our own time and ask how we stood by and did nothing for the widow, the orphan, those living in extreme poverty, while (now these are my words) we go Black Friday shopping at all hours of the night to get the latest and greatest techie gadget.

I have to admit, I'm really struggling with my own consumerism, especially in the light of what I KNOW to exist in other parts of the world- parents sending their 3-4 year old boys out to tend sheep all day to earn enough money to help feed their families (my son, Gavin had to do this). Not having medical care for malaria, parents die and their children get sent to an orphanage, where they might live for years before finding a forever family or might be put out on the street when they "age out" of the system in most countries (usually around 12 years old). Children with HIV are ostracized in their communities FOR NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. Without medical intervention, they will die. IF they make it to a family in a developed country, they have a chance at a FULL, HEALTHY LIFE.

I struggle with having incredible medical insurance when orphans in Eastern Europe with certain conditions are sent to live their entire lives in "institutions" where they won't get any personal touch, love or hope. Children with cerebral palsy won't be able to get out of bed each day.

Another point in the book Radical that I love is: When Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and love your neighbor as yourself." He wasn't just talking to a select few. He was talking to all of us. The Bible doesn't say that for a few people, "Religion that is pure and blameless is this go to widows and orphans in their distress."

I pray that my words don't fall on deaf ears, that they are the spark that lights a flame of advocacy for orphans and adoption in other people. I pray that Christians will learn to LIVE their faith everyday to those around them, whether in their communities or in other parts of the world.

Please go back to my friend, Dale's posts about his trip to Ethiopia last week. Look at the pictures, see the kids' faces. Now imagine your OWN (this term gets my goat because some refer to my adopted kids as not my own) kids and try to envision them living in these same conditions. Adoption may not be the answer to all kids, but it CERTAINLY is the answer that so many children need. There are 147 million orphans in the world. There are 147 MILLION children hoping for a Mommy and Daddy to tuck them in at night, to hold them when they're scared, to sing them songs, to help guide them into adulthood.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Truth Pandemic

Truth Pandemic: "

Click on this link to watch an awesome video.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Hallmark: Return from Ethiopia

The Hallmark: Return from Ethiopia#links

Click on the orange words above to link to our friend, Dale's words about his trip to Ethiopia last week- powerful. Can you impact a child's life for Christmas? If so, leave a comment and we'll connect with you with the team from Hopechest!

The Hallmark: How tough do you have it?#links

The Hallmark: How tough do you have it?#links

Oh my word- the pictures Dale just posted on their blog will break your heart, or call you to action. Please click on the link above and look at the pictures he took in Ethiopia last week. You'll see the smiles of those kids who have a sponsor and then you'll see pictures of YOUNG boys working as shepherds in the fields. These boys all look to be less than 8 years old- I keep thinking back to what I expected of my big 3 when they were 8 and certainly didn't involve tending animals in a field all day! There are opportunities to sponsor some of the kids in these photos. Click the link that says I sponsor a child at Kind Hearts or on Dale and Kristi's blog "I sponsor a child at Trees of Glory."

Do you sing the song at church that says, "Break my heart for what breaks yours."? Look back at those pictures again. I'm SURE the plight of orphans everywhere breaks God's heart. How can it not?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Blog Hop

Check out this new cool tool at the bottom of the blog. It's called Blog Hop. You can click on any adoptive family's blog to get to know more families that look a little like our's. I learn so much from these families- and are so encouraged by them. I'm warning you, though, you could lose half a day reading their stories.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I have so many things to be thankful for, most of whom live right here with me.

1. My husband - what an amazing provider. He works so hard everyday and doesn't ever complain with the number of hours required to run his own business and yet- makes it to all of the kids's activities. When he's not working, he's with us, no outside hobbies to take him away from being the Dad he loves to be. He makes dinner time entertaining everynight, as he tries to get ALL of the kids engaged in conversation. I can't imagine life without him...

2.K: As one of the "original 3", he is growing into such a neat man of integrity. He always knows when we need to pray for a situation. He has a great work ethic and is a blast to be around. I love his desire to learn!!

3. J: She is just about as even as one can be. She works hard at everything she does and excels at almost everything. We can have long talks about life, laugh hard together and play hard together (she has surpassed my b-ball abilities).

4. E: Is about as full of life as anyone can be. She constantly reminds us of what is truly important in life, the relationships we have with those around us. She has a heart for the unloved, which has been shared with all of us. She is a great travel companion.

5. M: He has grown more in the past 3 months than we ever dreamed. He is funny, responsible and loves to help around the house. He works diligently at his schooling and has come so far in his scholastic abilities.

6. Big L: She is SWEET, SWEET, SWEET. I've never met anyone with such a servant's heart. It almost kills her when we ask her not to help clean up after a meal to give her a break because she LOVES to help. She has a deep love of the Lord.

7. Big G: He is hilarious, full of life and willing to try almost anything. He has really come out of his shell to be a full member of this family. I am so thankful for the athletic abilities God has given him.

8. H: She has more energy than I knew a kid could have. Everything about this little girl is BIG- big personality, big voice and beautiful great big hair! She loves to snuggle and is learning and understanding English so quickly.

9. Little G: Our little dude has matured so much this year. He is strong, athletic and yet very sweet. He loves his family deeply and doesn't forget to tell us regularly.

10. L: Her smile can melt anyone's sour mood. She is generous, kind and smart. I love hearing her play the piano and watch her learning all about her violin...She is a miracle and I'm SO thankful that God brought the miracle to us!

11. My treadmill- it makes this MOmmy much nicer on those cold ND days when we can't get outside.

12. MY GOD. He has and is doing a major work in me this year. I'm so excited to live radically for HIM and I know this will continue to involve loving on kids. I'll paraphrase William Wilberforce by saying, "We can't ignore the things we know and have seen." Through my travels to ET, my eyes have been opened and I cannot possibly ignore the needs of the children of this world.

Don't forget to buy that coffee today and tomorrow! See yesterday's post for more information!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Great coffee for a great cause!!

Our friends, here in Williston just started the process to adopt from ETHIOPIA!! We are so excited to be able to come alongside them as they choose to obey God's calling in their lives. You can check out their blog at

They also have an account with Just Love Coffee Roasters to help with their adoption fundraising. Now, I'm not a coffee drinker, but I've been told by many people that this is GREAT coffee. This Thursday and Friday, they are having a contest and the winning account will get 20 bags of coffee for free--that will really help with fundraising!!! If you are looking for nice Christmas gifts for the coffee lovers in your lives, then please, click on the link posted above, go to Just Love Coffee and help our friends bring home a child from ET!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Family From Afar

Karen Wistrom has added a beautiful post on some of their time in Ethiopia last week, loving on kids. Scroll down to my blog roll list and click on Family from Afar. You'll be blessed and encouraged by her story.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some things I've learned along the way

When we started out to adopt 2 years ago, I was clueless about adopting children with HIV. I have learned so much from parents who are willing to share their stories. Now, none of my children are HIV+ but it wouldn't scare us to adopt a child with HIV. For some kids, getting the good nutrition they can get in the States is enough to boost their immune systems. For other children, for as little as $60/month, they can be treated and live a full, healthy life, able to have healthy children and live to see them grow into adulthood. $60/month is so little when we have so much here in the States.

In many countries, however, these children will be turned out of an orphanage when they reach 12-15 years old and the stigma of being an orphan with HIV will follow them. They will not be able to work, find housing or medical care- for no fault of their own. Some children will be transferred to an institution where they will live the rest of their lives without the love of a family.

Reece's Rainbow does an excellent job of advocating for orphans with significant medical needs, including HIV. Copy this link and look into the eyes of these beauties who are in desperate need of homes.

Happy Adoption Month!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What a gift

Last night, I received this picture. It is such a blessing to me to know that the child we sponsor knows that there is an actual family who prays for him by name. Check out Children's HopeChest and the work they do around the world to bring HOPE to children.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am THANKFUL for organizations, like Children's Hopechest, and people like our friend Dale, that live out the Gospel to show love to others.

Dale and Hopechest

Our good friend, Dale Hall, is in Ethiopia right now. He has spent the last week loving on kids and doing construction projects for Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts, two care-points for kids at risk, run by Children's Hopechest. We sponsor a beautiful little boy at Kind Hearts.

There are at least 30 more children at these carepoints who will need a sponsor. Sponsorship through Hopechest is incredible- not only do you get to help provide food, clothing and schooling for the children, they learn about the love of Christ for them,as they receive your letters and care packages. The staff of Hopechest works diligently to provide hope for the kids. Dale delivered a care package to our little guy and his descriptions of delivering them are so much appreciated.

For less than $40/month, you can provide hope to children in a tangible way. Please join us this Christmas season and consider sponsoring a child in Jesus's name. You can check out: The Hallmark: My heart can't take this...#comments to see Dale's pictures and descriptions of being in country. While you're on their blog, click on the video about 3 posts back~ let it be an encouragement to you to be like Christ this Christmas.

To find out more about sponsorship, you can click on the link at the left that reads, "We sponsor at child at Kind Hearts" Enjoy the pictures of these beautiful children (then look at the top of our blog~ those faces you see could have been our kids).

Monday, November 15, 2010

Phillips Family

Our good friends, the Phillips Family, leaves on Nov. 30 to live in Uganda. We met the Phillips Family, through our son Gavin. Their son, Tekle and Gavin come from the same village in Ethiopia. We consider them family and are so encouraged by their step of faith to minister to orphans in Uganda. Please check out their website and pray how you might get invovled!! copy the link below to your browser and enjoy getting to know these wonderful friends. Make sure to check out the video posted on the right hand side of their blog.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Gabe!!

Look at this boy!! He is sooooo much fun! Like I said before, celebrating a first birthday is one of my greatest joys as a Mommy. We have so many family members, we don't need to invite others to have a party. It's a party here everyday!

Gabe is the most remarkable boy. He smiles almost continually. He has perfect comedic timing--and OH is he ever funny!! I really thought that with the losses our kids have suffered, that we would see more "orphanage dust" needing to be removed in our son. It is a completely different story, though..He EMBRACES life, loving, laughing, working hard. He is pure joy. Thank you, Lord, for the lessons that Gabe teaches me everyday.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Our friends

Some of our good friends are off to Ethiopia tomorrow to help with construction projects and to love on kids at two care points just outside of Addis Ababa. Please join us in praying for the team from Childrens Hopechest and the kids they will impact this week! If you want more information about a great sponsorship program, click on the Kind Hearts link on my blog. 30 new kids need sponsors and I can tell you that this sponsorship program TRULY makes a difference in the lives of kids and their families.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank you God!

Every night, we gather as a family to pray together. The past two weeks, we have heard, "Thank you God, good family, everybody happy, good school, good food, good sisters, good brothers. Thank you God."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Our Future

I want to preface this by saying that this does not relate to adoption or to homeschooling, two of our favorite subjects. Copy and paste the video below to your browser (not techie enough to get it to load here first). Thanks for sending this our way, Dad.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

3 month post-placement visit

Today was our 3 month post placement visit...I honestly can't believe the kids have been home for 3 months!! As I watched them interact with our fantastic SW, I was in awe in how well they could articulate their likes/dislikes to her. Was it just two months ago that they could barely speak English? Now, they understand almost everything that is said to them/asked of them and respond appropriately...I know if I were thrown into a new culture with a new language it would take much longer than 3 months to get to where they are. We are feeling more and more like a family everyday..Honestly, we expected this feeling to take a long time, possibly years to reach, but God has woven this family together much sooner than we expected.

All 4 kids have grown almost 2 inches since their May report and have gained at least 6 pounds each...Good nutrition matters, so does the love of a family. Our SW had shared a statistic with me earlier that for every 3 months a child spends in an institutional setting, they lose about 1 months linear growth. Couple this with malnutrition and our kids have a lot of growing to make up for!

On a completely different note- I am reading the book, "Radical" by Dave Platt. This is honestly a must read for all believers. I'll try to write more about it later, but am excited for my family as Mike and I try to live out the ideas in the book.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

M & M's and Orphan Sunday

Tomorrow marks Orphan Sunday. It is a day for the Church to focus on orphan care nationwide..There is a role for everyone when it comes to caring for the orphan. You can pray for them, serve them on mission teams, mentor them, sponsor them,foster them, adopt them. The point is, EVERY ONE can be the hands and feet of Jesus to the millions of orphans worldwide.

We love M & M's at our much so that all of our curly headed kiddos wanted to be M & M's for Halloween. Thankfully, my two red-headed daughters are extremely crafty and came up with these costumes for their sisters and brothers (little L is an M and M cookie).

M&M's are all different colors on the outside, but once you bite them open, they're all the same- delicious!! (Kind of like my kids) They may all look different on the outside, but on the inside, they all have great, kind hearts...Happy Orphan Sunday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Urgent need for a home for a baby in Ohio

I received this this morning and my heart aches for this unborn child. I asked, and was granted permission to post this to my blog. I'm praying someone out there will be able to bring this baby home when he is born...God can do miraculous things when we step out in faith!

Baby Boy in Ohio

There is a baby boy here in the greater Cincinnati area who is due to be born on December 6 and is in need of a home. The agency which contacted us about his case is one that we have not worked with before, and we do not know anything about their requirements or typical mode of operation. This boy has been diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type I (NF-1), a genetic condition that causes, among other things, non-cancerous tumors to grow on the skin. According to the geneticist being consulted on this boy’s behalf, the manifestations of the disorder vary greatly, and so nothing definite can be known until after he has been born.

This condition is hereditary, and he contracted it from his birth mother, who is now thirty-one years old. She developed benign brain tumors when she was thirteen, one of which was removed. The others were left and have not grown since they were discovered. In choosing an adoptive family for this baby, she would like to have a partially open adoption. Specifically, her desire is to have pictures and letters from the parents, and maybe one visit each year, depending on the location of the adoptive family.

The agency handling this case has decided to discount their fees, which is keeping the adoption costs rather low. If the adoptive family lives in Ohio and within about an hour of Cincinnati, the total cost—including agency fees, social worker fees, and post-placement reports—would be $3,800. (These fees do not include attorney fees, which the adopting family will be responsible for.) If the adoptive family is from Ohio but not close enough to Cincinnati for the placing agency to handle the post-placement reports, the fees would be $3,000, not including those post-placement reports—which would need to be done by another agency—and attorney fees. Finally, families from another state would pay $3,500 to cover the agency fees, social worker fees, and ICPC requirements, but another agency in their state of residence would have to be engaged for the post-placement reports; and again, attorney fees associated with the adoption at their end will be the responsibility of the adoptive family. (Please keep in mind that these fees are set by the placing agency, not by The Shepherd’s Crook, and so the actual fees are subject to the discretion of the agency.)

Because this boy is expected to be born in early December, the agency can only consider families who already have a completed home study. If you would like additional information about this boy as you prayerfully contemplate adopting him, then please write to Thank you for your prayers on his behalf.

In Christ,
Administrative Assistant

Monday, November 1, 2010

National Adoption Month

If you couldn't tell by our blog, we are passionate about adoption. We love our children by adoption and want to encourage others to adopt. Our family feels a burden to be the voice for the millions of children (estimates are anywhere from 147 to 165 million orphans) worldwide who are without a Mommy and a Daddy.

Look at the picture above. If not for the miracle of adoption, none of my 6 beautiful curly-headed children would be here. If not for the U.S. foster care system, we wouldn't have our youngest. If not for the Ethiopian government realizing they have a HUGE need and allowing international adoption, 5 of my children would be parentless and hopeless.

I sat yesterday, as my husband shared his heart for adoption with some friends. He said, "I can't imagine life without any of our kids." It's true, our kids bless us beyond measure.

CHURCH, it's time to wake up, live a radical faith that has us abandon the things of this world to do what is truly important in the eyes of God! We would love to help you walk through this journey. Please contact us if you have any questions!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Home again

We got home about 2:30 last night and the welcome this morning was incredible. I am amazed at this family that God has woven together and thankful to be home with everyone.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Well, the first blizzard hit Williston yesterday and today and according to Mike, the kids loved playing in the snow. E, L and I were in Denver to see our favorite allergist yesterday and tried to get home last night, but ended up getting stranded in Gillette. It was about 1:30 a.m. when the pilot decided to stay in Gillette instead of flying on home (no visibility and 50 mph winds). We were presented with hotel vouchers, a ride to the hotel and instructions to be back at the airport at 7 a.m. to fly BACK TO DENVER to try and get another plane to Williston today..Well, I needed to fill Layne's prescription for her asthma medicine and the ER wouldn't do it for me unless I took her in and checked her in overnight pharmacies here. We opted to take our chances with staying in Gillette and I'm so glad we did. After checking in at the airport, it looks like we can hang out here and then get on the late night flight to Williston tonight. The lady at the ticket counter laughed and said we'd probably be on the flight with most of the other passengers from our original flight (after they had to fly to Denver, hang out in Denver all day and then fly back here to Gillette then to Williston).

I was able to get Layne's script filled at Wal-mart, with one of the friendliest pharmacists EVER, who happens to live in the same hometown that my parents grew up in. She is doing better after the second course of steroids for her asthma and I am relieved at not having to hang out in Denver all day. Mike said I'm not allowed to fly for the rest of the year (since our travel debacle in Ethiopia and Dubai this summer). Thanks, Mike for holding down the fort and doing it so well!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Important to listen to--

This is not adoption related, it's about parental rights here in the U.S. Please listen to the link. It'll take you about 30 minutes, but it is well worth it. Also, check out

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy birthday Micah!!

One of the fun things about adopting older kids is helping them celebrate their first birthday. Obviously, Micah has had many birthdays to get as old as he is, but he's never been able to celebrate them. We had a wonderful day..All of his siblings went to the dollar store to purchase him a gift, so he had plenty of things to open. Everyone made him cards telling him how much they loved him...oh what fun it was to watch everyone LOVE on Micah for a few hours. He beamed from ear to ear most of the time, especially when he got to blow out his candles on the cake...We heard him proclaim, "You I LIKE!" as he took his first bite..

I love being a Mom, it is the best job in the world. I love being a Mom who gets to make kids feel special- kids born of my womb and kids born of another's womb. To me it doesn't matter and I think it's mattering less and less to those that God has placed in our home. Happy Birthday Micah! I am so thankful that Daddy met you last June and used you to get us to go back to Ethiopia to bring you all home. Your smile lights up the house. Your enthusiasm for life is contagious.

On another note- some dear friends that we met in August are heading back to Ethiopia in two weeks to bring home their second son- you see, they adopted their first son and found out that he had a very dear friend, a best friend, in Ethiopia who didn't have a family yet. I was there the day these two boys had to say good-bye to each other- it was one of the hardest things I've ever watched (reminded me of when we left with Gavin last year and his best friend was so very sad). When the Hammons got home, this other little boy was on their hearts and on their son's. They just accepted his referral and will be going to ET for court VERY SOON~~ the speed of all of this could make your head spin, but God knew. He knew that he could use their sweet son to bring yet another child home. Please hop on over to their blog and follow their story...better yet, help them out, this weekend, as they are doing some FUNdraising to bring him home. You might win an i-pad while helping a sweet, sweet boy find a forever family!! Just click on the light grey words, Hammons House and it will take you right there. Hammons House

I've seen over and over how God uses children to do what HE knows is important- caring for the orphan...God used Micah a year ago to open our hearts to having more kids. He then used our kids at home to ask Mike and I to consider adopting again. He used sweet Tariku to get his family to go get his friend. Do you see the smile on Micah's face in these pictures? He is loved, he is safe, he has a hope and future-EVERY child deserves this. Please consider bringing another child into your home- really, in life, nothing else matters..not until all 147 million orphans have a home. 147 million kids who are like my Micah, waiting, hoping and praying for a family to decide to come and get them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reality is a Weighty Thing

Reality is a Weighty Thing

Please read this- it's super tough, but it's reality.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Noah and the Webers

Yesterday, in church, we heard a great message about living our faith. The Pastor talked about how crazy all of Noah's friends thought he was, as he followed God's voice and built the ark. He went on to say if we hear God's voice, we must fear HIM enough to follow the voice. In Noah's case, his family was all that went with him. God blessed them, by saving them from devastation and out of their family grew the nations.

Our friends, the Webers are a Noah kind of family. They adopted sweet Abrham last year. He is a beloved Bench boy, from the same village as our Gavin. When they were in Ethiopia, they heard God asking them again to step out in faith and adopt again. Does the world call them crazy? Probably- I'm sure we've been called that many, many, times, yet we do follow an awesome God who calls us all to go to orphans in their distress.

Check out their blog at:

If God calls you to help families who are adopting kids, please leave me a comment. We could connect you with families who are walking on faith, not on what's in their checking account. You will be blessed. If God is whispering to you to adopt, leave a comment. We would be happy to walk you through the process. Sometimes it might feel as lonely as it did for Noah and his family, but God does bless you when you step out in faith. I couldn't imagine our days without any of our kids. We are blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Great visit with Papa

My Dad came up this week for a little cross-country watching and kid greeting. I wish I would have taken some pictures of him while he was here, but it was definitely nice to have him here. All of my kids love their Papa, even the newest ones, who really don't understand his relationship to us. After he left, Micah said, "Papa, I like. Come back soon?" Even though we know that we have some great kids (not biased at all) it was nice to hear him say those same things.

Papa got his share of watching cross-country, with 7 out of 9 kids running- it was SO MUCH FUN to watch them! Gabe and Gavin have a little healthy competition going with each other and push each other to run pretty fast. I don't think I could run a mile in under 8 minutes anymore and yet they do it pretty easily. Everyone's times have improved dramatically from the beginning of the season.

The younger kids all have one more short race on Friday and then E,J, and K are finished on Saturday. It has been a great time as a family, traveling to each meet and meeting other families. I will definitely miss our cross-country times but know with 9 kids who love to run, I'll have many more meets in our future. If only they had a parents' race!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

God is so faithful

Short update- EVERYONE is doing really well. Our God is so faithful when we step out in faith and do something the world would say is crazy...

Monday, September 27, 2010

First ER visit in Williston

I just got back from the ER with Micah. We had a wonderful afternoon of soccer playing with our friends- great fun- then started doing some relay races. As soon as Micah started to do a crab walk, he collapsed, because his shoulder hurt so badly. When we got home, his left A/C joint was pretty swollen and extremely sore to the touch, so to the ER we went (my boy is very brave, so telling us he hurt made us know that he really was in a lot of pain).

After a LONG wait, we had several x-rays taken and it looks like it'll heal up quickly. He has to wear a sling for a few days (up to 10) and then we'll revisit if it is still hurting him. The radiologist will give his films a second read tomorrow to make sure nothing got missed.

We'd appreciate prayers for a rapid healing for him. It's his writing hand and he LOVES schoolwork and using the computer.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This girl

We've been fighting a bug that had Elli, then Mike pretty sick. Then yesterday, Layne got it. My Layne doesn't have the ability to throw up- thanks to a much needed corrective surgery when she was an infant- most of the time it's a great thing, except when she's sick. It's the saddest thing ever, as her little body says it needs to vomit and she's not able. It hurts, she hurts and then we all feel so horrible for her, as we watch her struggle. This morning was one of those mornings. Her tummy HURT and so we made the decision for me to stay home with her instead of watching the kids run in Glasgow today...

THEN, my sweet Leah didn't eat breakfast- you see she was sick too, but is so SWEET, she didn't want to take anything away from Layne. After the runners left, I crawled back in bed for awhile and my two L girls snuggled on the couch for a movie. When I came in the room, Leah flashed me this huge smile. Did she feel better? NO- she has a fever, headache and tummy ache, BUT, she has a Mom who loves her and takes care of her. She has a home where she can rest comfortably in when she's sick and she has a new little sister who adores her.

The picture above shows Leah smiling like she always does. It doesn't matter what she's doing, she smiles. She told me, "Leah don't know sad or mad. Leah is so happy." AND SHE IS!!

However, these words didn't describe Leah even a few short weeks ago. Whenever someone met her in Ethiopia, they would report back at how sad she looked. They would tell us she was kind and extremely shy. Well, she is still kind, but there is not a shy bone in her body. My girl will walk up to anyone (smiling), stick out her hand and say, "My name is Leah." What a difference a month makes. What a difference a family makes. Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "When Love Takes you in" is so true..."When love takes you in and says you belong..everything changes."

Now I wait for the phone to ring to tell me how the runners did....

Friday, September 24, 2010

what works

This post will probably be boring for those outside of the adoption community, but I know many people who are adopting, read the blog and so this post is for them.

We are all learning everyday little things that make our home run more smoothly and that produce more smiles than frowns. Homeschooling continues to be a great option for our family, especially with the great tutors and helpers who come in during the day. I honestly can't imagine sending the new kids to school right away when they got home. THEY NEED US so much on a minute to minute basis. They need to feel the safety and security of home. They need the routine, they need the chores, they need the ability to be around siblings all day long and work together to live together in peace. They need constant reassurance and constant love.

Laundry used to be overwhelming, BUT thanks to my husband, is working smoothly now. We created cubbies for everyone, with names clearly written. The kids bring their laundry down every other day. E, J, K and M help me keep things running between washer and dryer and then it's brought out to fold and put in everyone's cubby. Twice/day (once after breakfast and then again before bed), the kids clean out their cubbies and are responsible for putting their own clothes if we could the socks to match themselves...

We've had to be quite creative with our discipline, as our kids have traumatic pasts and have come from really hard places. We also have a huge language barrier to deal with. Here are some ideas that have worked well:

1. writing sentences about the desired behaviors (this helps with handwriting as well-ha ha)
2. scooping poop- self- explanatory here-there really is nothing better than a few minutes by yourself scooping that glorious dog poo.

3. Sticker chart- the kids would rather do just about anything than lose a sticker and have developed great servant attitudes when they are able to earn a sticker for great behaviors. Three kids are getting to go to Wal-mart tonight for their reward, which should be a lot of fun.

4. Taking away a favorite activity. Knowing that they may lose an afternoon on the "cycle" is the best way to stop any undesired behavior- a behavior that has been used self-defense after years in an institutional setting.

5. The glue stick method- thank you Aldrin Family...when someone acts outside what we want, they get to be glued to Mike or me--Mike even got a two day out of town trip with one child..the difference was like night and day.

6. Using an English/Amharic Bible- this has been an incredible gift- when we have something we want to say, but don't have the right words, God's word, in their native language, speaks volumes. I need to get one for everyone. It is a cherished posession.

7. Charades- this is our best tool for showing the kids what we expect. It helps to have other kids involved who understand what you're trying to get across.

8. A sense of humor-- used all of the time.

9. Exercise- we have the kids exercise quite a bit, several times/day. Bicycles, trampoline and running are the best,but when the weather is uncooperative, Tae Bo and the Biggest Loser DVDs work well. We can tell when we haven't done this enough. It also works for the Mom and Dad- we're so excited for the new elliptical.

9. Last but not least, prayer, prayer, prayer.

We have been rewarding good behavior like crazy. I don't think the kids had heard, "thank you" or "please" from anyone for the past two years.

We have seen mountains moved this past week. Thank you all who have been praying specifically for different difficulties we've had. It's amazing to look back over the past few weeks and see what God is has done in all of our hearts. He really is binding us as a family.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Two days ago, our dogs killed a squirrel in the backyard. After working for about 5 minutes to separate said dogs from squirrel, I took out a garbage sack to dispose of the squirrel. One of my new daughters chased after me, "Mom, no garbage...Cook, Eat, GOOD." I guess we are pretty wasteful, here, but I just couldn't bring myself to skin the squirrel for supper. We did all have a good laugh, though.

Happy Thursday.

Monday, September 20, 2010


This post is not about my son Micah. Instead, it deals with the Book Micah, in the Old Testament. Janika, Elli and Kael and I are reading through it as part of their home school. Janika's Bible gives a brief overview of each book. Micah's overview states, "God cares for poor and helpless people. God will judge rich people who are mean to poor people."

"Micah tells people to turn to God. He says that they must love God. Only love for God will make people do what is right."

Please pray for us to continue to show God's love to our children.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Children of God...

I know this is long- but the music was so good, we had to add lots of pictures!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Kind hearts and Trees of Glory

A team of 16 people will be heading to Ethiopia in November to minister to the children at both Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory carepoints. This trip is very important to our family because of our ties to Ethiopia, our sponsored child at Kind Hearts and because our good friends from Sheridan are traveling to do construction projects at both care points.

The need is real. Most of the children being helped at these two carepoints are orphans. At Trees of Glory, many of the children have been sold for $12/year to work as sheep and goat herders. These could have been our kids. Gavin started tending sheep at the age of 3- can you imagine being out all day with only a stick for protection in an area with several kinds of big cats? As we toured the Minot Zoo yesterday, this became a reality to me,as I watched my son look at the lions behind the cage bars. Young children in Ethiopia have no bars to protect them from the wild animals as they work all day without food or water.

My friends from Sheridan will be doing construction projects at both care points. They will be helping construct classroooms, get clean water wells and anything else to make the facilities safer for the children they minister to. Would you join us in helping provide funding for these projects? Look at Gavin's picture at the top of my blog and try to invision him out tending sheep by himself...and then give.

If you want to find out more about the kids at Kind Hearts, click on the button on the left hand side of my blog.

If you're interested in helping with finances with this trip, go to, click on GIVE, enter the dollar amount and specify ET101101T-PROJECTS. Please leave me a comment to tell me that you donated and I will let the team know. Again, the need is real. These kids need our help and the people traveling in November are going to be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

one month home

I just finished filling out our one month post placement report. I can't believe we've had the kids home for a month. We are still working on our daily shedule and expectations, but overall things are going remarkably well. We are so thankful for our preparation for this adoption. We're thankful for bloggy friends who have been honest in their postings about adopting older children because we honestly had a good idea of what to expect. (every worse case scenario).

Still, it's hard to watch a child devour food like they're not going to get anymore, to the point of getting sick. It's so hard to know that a child wants to tell you something, yet doesn't have the words yet. It's heartbreaking to see the tears come, when they feel safe enough to start sharing their stories. Friends, please pray for my children. They have been through so much in their little lives. As they feel safe, they are starting to share these details. No child should ever live in fear.

Friends, please pray for Mike and I through this transition time,as we try to parent with love, patience and compassion. We have failed on many accounts and pray that God's grace covers our shortcomings. Please pray for English language acquisition to be amazingly quick for all 4 kids so we can easily talk through these times.

We are excited about what God is doing in all of us.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

working on a video

I know people are wanting pictures and more pictures. It seems like when we have time to get them posted, something else comes up. Elli is working on a video, that we should be able to post in the next day or two...

Everything continues to go well here. We are into a routine with school, with one more tutor coming on board next week, to help the bigger kids catch up to their peers a little more. I am so impressed with their desire to learn and their willingness to try things....However, I must order different math curriculum next week, since the one I ordered (and love) has WAY TOO MUCH ENGLISH in it.

We still covet prayer support, as we negotiate this road with all of our kids. We have fewer and fewer speed bumps and more and more laughter each day. We also celebrate firsts every day which is fun. 3 out of the 4 can ride a bike now. They are all getting much stronger physically, both with strength and endurance. Finally, none of the kids have CAVITIES!! That is a huge praise since they haven't ever seen a dentist before yesterday. The new dentist we went to was fantastic- great with the kids and with me explaining what he saw. From the looks of Hallie's back teeth, she had lots of fevers when she was an infant. I can't imagine how scary that must have been for her parents, knowing that many babies die from fever in Ethiopia.

We are half way through the cross country season and LOVING our kids' introduction to junior high sports. The coaches are positive, push the kids hard and know how to have fun at the same time--I am thrilled. Tomorrow we travel to Minot for a meet.

On another note, our good friends, the Webers, are close to sending their dossier in for their second trip to ET. Their son is from the same village as Gavin and we met them last March. We'll be praying for you Weber Family! Thanks for continuing to bring hope to more children!!!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Williston Herald - Online Edition

Williston Herald - Online Edition

Just had to brag on my husband a little. This article talks about our business, Summit Energy Services and some of the work he just completed for EOG Resources.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a little toot

We all needed a little laughter in the house and wouldn't you know, all it took was one of my precious children to toot and Daddy to laugh. I can honestly say that NOW, we are a family. No one is afraid to be themselves, no one is afraid to get embarrassed and EVERYONE is having a great time together. Who would have known what a little natural gas could do? I should have fixed beans days ago..

On a praise note- To those of you praying for my child who was having trouble with transitions...thank you. Today was nothing short of amazing!! We are seeing that same child that God used to bring us back to Ethiopia- that same child whose smile we couldn't get out of our minds, that same child who stole our hearts. God is good and faithful and HEARS the cry of His people. (Please don't stop though, we covet your continued prayers).

Monday, August 23, 2010

What a weekend--

We had a really good weekend around here, with lots of fun, running, swimming and family time. Many lessons were also learned.

The kids all did amazingly well in their first cross country meet. I think every one of them knocked at least 30 seconds off their mile time. It was so much fun to be on this side of the cross country race, cheering for them to kick it in!! I'm so encouraged by the coaching they're receiving, the encouragement from older runners and coaches and the friendships that all of them are developing. For the first time since moving here, I feel like "WOW- I can't wait to watch my kids grow up here."

We took the kids swimming yesterday and no one hurled in the pool- SUCCESS!!! They had a great time and it was fun to see their excitement. Gavin is now trying to swim on his own. Swimming lessons x6 should have us pool safe by next summer.

Elli came down with Strep yesterday, so we're cleaning everything in the hopes that not all 9 will get it. Fortunately, we were at the doctor's for Leah's last Rocephin shots (ouch!) yesterday, so she was diagnosed quickly. I think she's on the mend.

Communication seems to be our biggest hurdle and that's where we need the prayer support of many. Gabe and Hallie seem to be picking up English very quickly. Leah and Micah are working hard, but it doesn't come as easily as it does for the littler ones. Today is a great day of trying, though, as Micah and Leah have already done a lesson in Rosetta Stone English for the day. We start school tomorrow and they are all anxious to learn.

Our new van is here in the driveway. It will be really nice for loading everyone up at once. We do the little, "Get in the Makeena" dance a few times/day- It's nice to have a "BIG MAKEENA!"

Friday, August 20, 2010

Good news and a good day!

Yesterday, I posted that we were having a few struggles with one of our children. Due to the wisdom of my husband and the prayers of many faithful friends, today is definitely better and we're back to smiles all the way around. Also- big shout of thanks to the Sauros for the gifts- you made everyone's day and they yelled "Thank you." to your pictures. I heard ALL of my boys laughing and playing together for hours today.

Good news: We ran some more tests on Leah today and it looks like she won't need surgery- Praise God! She has an acute thyroiditis that is treatable with antibiotics. Her pain should go away soon--so thankful, as she is such a sweet young lady and I hate to see her in pain.

Tomorrow we have first cross-country races for my 4 biggest kids (I can't wait to watch them run) and then Williston has the annual Chokecherry Festival. The timing of this festival is so interesting- as the last active thing I did with my Mom, before she died was pick chokecherries (I still have the three bags frozen in my freezer-can't get myself to make jelly out of them) and she passed away 6 years ago on Monday. She was such a gift to all of us and I'll be smiling as Williston celebrates that tart little berry...


I've had people ask me why I'm not posting much lately. Honestly, I don't know where the days go and I want to protect my kids' privacy as much as a public blog allows, while at the same time be an encouragement to those who are called to adopt or are thinking about adoption.

Things are going, on average VERY WELL. 3 out of the 4 kids are very happy, loving, eating well, sleeping well, playing well with everyone. We do have one child, however who is struggling a bit, and the struggles have to do with cultural differences, more than heart. It's so hard to see children grieve what they've always known, as they work hard to learn our ways. I'm so thankful for an adoption community who offers instant support and more importantly prayers to help a child adjust a bit better. I am so thankful for Pastor Yosef, in Indianapolis, who got right on the phone with us to translate today. I'm thankful for the friends here who offer continual smiles and encouragement throughout the days. I'm thankful for my husband who mans up everyday to love on 9 kids and do it well. I'm thankful for all of my kids. We really have a unique household and it is filled with laughter most of the time.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be taken from everything I've ever known, smells, sights, sounds, people and be put into a house, in the middle of ND. I can't imagine any of my other kids going to a new country, with new parents, new sets of rules, new expectations without any struggles.

Finally, it looks like we're getting a VAN! I test drove a van today and Elli said, "Mom, you actually did pretty well--" It's sure nice to load all 9 kids in the car and still have room for more -ha!
God is good, all the time and He is teaching us all so much about ourselves these past two weeks.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

tired mama

This morning, I am tired, not from naughty kids or too much laundry- I think my jet lag finally and completely caught up with me. We've been doing amazingly well- Praise GOD!! We've had tons of firsts this week. Micah is now riding his bike. He proved to me he can read beginning reading books and they all went swimming last night (I don't know why they didn't clear the pool when my little guy hurled in it after taking in too much water--lol).

I told Layne last night that it was fun to watch her swim. She replied, "Mom, I had SO Much fun watching Hallie swim. Did you see her?" My first 5 kids have been amazing, so unselfish and all patient as they teach. My new 4 are rolling with the punches. Our biggest difficulties have been cultural differences yet our kids have soft hearts and want to be so helpful. I almost couldn't cook dinner last night because I had so many helpers in the kitchen.

All of the kids' blood work have come back and verified how very healthy they are. We are so very thankful..

If anyone is interested in older child adoption- please contact us. We would be happy to help you navigate the process. There are so many children out there in need of homes, so many, who would flourish if given love.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

World record house cleaning

Just another quick update- will try to get pictures posted soon. Everyone is doing really well-better than expected every day!!! This morning, we had a huge house clean up. With everyone's help, the entire house was clean in about an hour!!! I watched in amusement as Gavin and Layne showed Gabe and Hallie how to dust (even my floorboards got dusted). Kael taught Micah how to take out the trash and sweep (they did a great job). Elli, Janike and Leah tackled the mirrors, counter tops and sinks, while I did the kitchen and Mike ran the vaccuum. We are so thankful for such eager helpers--all 9 Sweeney kids had a great attitude and worked diligently. About 2 months ago, I was watching the Duggars when Michelle talked about house cleaning. She quoted, "many hands make light work." We truly saw that this morning.

Our meal times are a hoot. The kids are anxious to try out their new English skills at the table. We hear the funniest things, as they parrot back the things they've heard us say over and over. Prior to the meal, my eager helpers show up to set the table (Gavin taught them how) and then after dinner, the boys run and get the brooms while the girls clear the table and we get the dishwasher loaded. It gets loaded 4 times/day!!! The first thing on our kitchen remodel is another dishwasher or at least an industrial sized one.

I am in awe of how God has paved the way for us to work as a family of 11. He has truly gone before us every step of the way.

We would appreciate prayers for Leah. It looks like she will need some surgery in the next few weeks. Fortunately, she can have it done in Minneapolis, so we can be around even more supportive family and a good friend who can help interpret for her. We will know more this week.
Oh! My luggage finally showed up today- 5 days after we got home..

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quick Update

I'll post more later, but our days are flying by. Yesterday, the kids saw the pediatrician for their initial visits, blood work and first immunizations. They all did really well. In the afternoon, we did a bone age exam and chest x-ray- they loved seeing the films after they were done. I wish I could have understood what they were saying to each other, but they were definitely excited. We should have a determination on ages soon, but our pediatrician agrees with the doctor at the Transition Home that the kids's ages on their birth certificates are too old!! That usually doesn't happen with ET adoptions. I think they are getting overly cautious now that many family have brought children back to the States and their children were much older than their reported ages. Thankfully, we can amend their birth certificates with notes from our physician, when we finalize here in North Dakota.

Gabe and Layne have respiratory bugs, so we're not running on full steam here. Any prayer warriors out there who want to pray for my little ones, I would appreciate it...

I just have to say my husband has been awesome--he takes over at the dinner table and is really making learning English fun. The kids are already starting to speak in small sentences and seem to understand more of what we're saying to them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I have no idea where today went...Janika, Kael, Elli and Micah all started cross-country this morning. There are two practices per day and Micah LOVES IT! He is a natural runner and is quite speedy according to the other three. I think they are getting by on sheer competitiveness. Tonight's practice included 1 hour of running in the outdoor pool. I wish I could have seen his face as he got in the water, but I was home with the little ones. It will be super fun to watch them all progress throughout the season...

All of our homeschool materials have been ordered. I needed a few days to determine what the kids knew and am so thankful for the education they received at Kids Care. They are way ahead of where I thought they'd be with both letter recognition and math skills.

We've been doing pretty well, considering we have 4 kids speaking Amharic, and 5 kids speaking English and Mommy and Daddy trying to use our phrase books to bridge the gaps. It's amazing to see Gavin teaching them all English, since he's only known it for about a year. I hope they all speak as clearly as he does in another year. Gabe seems to be picking up English very quickly and they all seem to joke a bit in English, which is a good sign of learning the language. As we were practicing saying, "Hi, My name is_____," I heard, "Hi, my name is Ice Cream.", "Hi, my name is sister." and "Hi, My name is Mommy." I think Micah could live on ice cream, so I might have to start calling him that.

Please pray for us to all extend grace and have patience over the next few days and weeks. This isn't for's wonderful, yet tough. As another adoptive mom put it, kids who have been in an orphanage for periods of time, have many layers of orphanage dust to brush off. Fortunately, I don't believe this dust is too thick on our children, as they all have very tender hearts. They are all very eager to please and try to help in any way they can. We see many more smiles than frowns and have only seen a few small cases of tears. God is sustaining everyone during this transition.

We are thankful for everyone's support and prayers. As I stated before, adoption helps us all see our own sin nature several times per day. It's a humbling process.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweeney 11

We got back home last night after 45 hours of travel- 3 flights delayed, then cancelled flights, rebookings, everything you can imagine that could go wrong airline wise did, but the kids were amazing through the whole trip (the Mommy was the only one who broke down at one point). Hopefully, they find our bags.

These pictures are of the kids at the airport and at Arby's after we got back. Mike's Mom and Dad even donned tie-dye for the occassion. Pretty good looking crew, if I do say so myself!! God is so good and faithful. Things are going smoothly this morning. I'll post more later, after some more sleep.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Elli, Bert and I leave in the morning. I think we're as ready as we ever will be to bring these 4 children home. We are very, very excited to start living the new normal, as the Sweeney11. God has done an amazing work in our family over the past year, stretching us, growing us and I know it's just beginning.

We are thankful to so many for the support in getting to this point. Brenda, Greg, Michael and Brad, thanks for the encouragement, love and tremendous prayer support. Bud and Cindy, thanks for staying with my other kids while I'm gone- it's the hardest thing to do, even though it's only for a short time. Mike- thanks for being the amazing provider that you are and being sold out for Jesus so much that you're willing to put aside the world to do what He calls us to do!

Janika and Kael- you guys just rock. I'm so proud of you and how you roll with the punches. Thank you for opening your hearts to some more brothers and sisters. I couldn't be more proud of you!!!

Layne and Gavin- I love you so much. I am going to miss you like crazy when I'm gone, but am so happy to be bringing home more brothers and sisters for you both. We are going to have a great time growing as a family.

Elli- thanks for going with me- you are such a big help with kids and I know God is going to continue to use you in a mighty way with orphans.

The Larsen Family- thank you for your continued support, through prayer and loving on our kids. You have no idea how God has used you to help us feel peaceful during this process.

Bert- WOW- don't even know where to start, except that I am so honored to have you travel with me. You are such an incredible friend, Grandma and mentor.

Lisa- you are THE BEST social worker ever and we appreciate how you've walked through this process with us. We look forward to getting to know you even more this year.

The Hutcheson Crew: We love you all! Thanks for the CONTINUAL support and the prayers directed our way. We can't wait to see you again.

Most importantly, I am thankful to God for taking us down this road again. We couldn't be happier to bring our children home.

Prayer requests for the week:
1. Embassy clearance on Weds!! This is our biggest request, since any non-clearance would mean extra days in ET, before we can bring the kids home. WE WANT THEM HOME!!!

2. Please pray for the hearts of all of my kids- for God to prepare them all for the changes to come and for patience for all of us during the transition.

Thank you prayer warriors. We believe it is the prayers of family and friends that have sustained us during all of the craziness of the past 5 1/2 months. This was an extremely short pregnancy for all of us!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Why in the world would we do this?

How could we not?

Last night, I had a long talk with Kael,about bringing new brothers and sisters home (these talks happen all the time with each one of our kids). All I kept thinking was, what if it was Kael, Elli, Janika, Layne and Gavin waiting in an orphanage, hoping not to be split up, hoping that one day a family would take them in and love them? What if it were your kids?
I'm so thankful that I now have 4 more children to call "my own."

Again, how could we not?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's time!!

I've been called an amazing Mom so many times this week, it would make my spin. I've even been told we're crazy. Who would want more than 5 children? I'm not an amazing Mom, just a Mom who loves children, who doesn't believe that ANY child should live without a Mom and a Dad. I'm a Mom who delights in spending all of my time with my children and my husband, delights (most of the time) with the amount of laundry I have, with the many voices at my dinner table and the quiet whispers in my kids's rooms, as they talk each other to sleep at night. I'm not amazing, just amazingly blessed.

I've copied the following thoughts from Lorraine Patterson's blog. I've followed their family's journey for some time, and spent countless hours praying for them. Please read this in it's entirety. I could have written it, but am thankful that it was written for me to pass on.

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” ~Mother Teresa

I was going to stop with that powerful quote, but there's so much more I want to say.

Basically, I'm tired. I'm not tired of the things you might think...not tired of dishes, laundry, kids...those are all blessings, and I never tire of blessings. I'm tired of people sitting back thinking that theyr'e waiting for some magical moment to step in and make a difference in the life of just 1 child.

Waiting to sponsor that child until they get a larger paycheck.

Waiting for our "own" kids to grow up and move out and then we might consider helping someone else's children.

Waiting for our house to get cleaned up before we think about a home study.

Waiting for more bedrooms before we can possibly add another child into our home.




While we wait for our lives to be perfect before we consider helping another child, guess what?

There's someone else, a helpless child, who is waiting...



for us to get our act together and decide that RIGHT NOW is the time to make a difference. Right now is the time to step up to the plate and say YES. Right now is the time to trust God with our lives, our homes, our finances, instead of relying upon self.

Right now is the time to realize that as we wait for the right time, a child dies of starvation. A child dies of neglect. A child dies of malnutrition. A child is ignored. A child is abused. A child wishes for a clean cup of drinking water. A child is sold into sex slavery. A child aches for a mom and a dad. A child yearns for just one person to tell her that she's special. A child wastes away in a crib in an orphanage, waiting for someone to rescue him.

All of this while we wait at a fast food restaurant, getting angry when it takes longer than 3 minutes to get our food. While we wait for our pocketbook to grow larger, wishing our waists would grow thinner, and hoping our gym memberships will get us in shape so that we'll be in a better position to help others.

When will you decide that RIGHT NOW is the time to make a difference?

"To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world." ~author unknown

One life matters! There are so many ways to help, to make a difference, to help orphans and live out James 1:27 (to care for orphans and widows in their distress).

Feed 1 child. (through a child feeding sponsorship)

Pray for 1 child. (that he/she would find a home and be kept safe until God unites them)

Foster 1 child. (it's actually get paid to do this)

Adopt 1 child. (yes, adopting 1 child really does make a difference)

If you're ready to commit to making a difference RIGHT NOW, go register to attend the Together for Adoption 2010 Conference to find out how YOU can make a difference in the life of 1 child. Or more. :-) There are SO many ways for you to make a difference. Come find out how. CLICK HERE to register.

"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat." ~Mother Teresa

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty". ~Mother Teresa

"There is more hunger in the world for love and appreciation in this world than for bread." ~Mother Teresa

"The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread." ~Mother Teresa

"The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved." ~Mother Teresa

Thank you Lorraine. Now is the time. There are children waiting..I've met some of them. They are beautiful..they need the love of a family and the church needs to step up and say "YES!!!"

We have tickets!!

I purchased our tickets this morning, so it's official, we are leaving Monday!! Hopefully, by this time next week, I will have cleared the Embassy and be sitting down to a nice dinner with Elli, Bert, Gabe, Hallie, Micah and Leah.

I've had several people offer financial assistance with our trip and I am thankful for that. We have a paypal account set up which can be accessed on the left hand side of the blog here.

We would love as many prayer warriors holding us up over the next week as possible. We still have quite a few details to get done around the house, homeschool supplies to order, van to purchase, puppy to potty train (yes, we have the most adorable puppy, Dixie- intentionally purchased as a warm, loving lap dog for all of my kids), and rooms to rearrange. Mike's parents will be here on Sunday to stay the week that I am gone (WHEW).

Specific Prayer Requests:
1. For Layne's heart- as she is a Mommy's girl through and through- that she will feel well loved when I am away (thank you Grandma Sweeney, Janika and DIXIE).
2. For Gavin's heart- that he wouldn't be fearful of me flying.
3. For good health for Elli as she travels with me to help the kids and I get to know each other.
4. For Kael and Janika as they help hold down the fort here and help nurture Layne and Gavin.
5. For Mike as he continues to burn the midnight oil with our business, in preparation for helping me homeschool this year. He is such an amazing man- I am truly blessed.
6. For Micah, Leah, Gabe and Hallie as they prepare to leave their familiar setting and join us here. Please especially pray for them as they leave the nannies that they've grown to love over the past two years.
7. That we would pass our Embassy appointment next Weds.
8. Finally, that our transition time will be as smooth as possible, once we're home.

We are so thankful for the children God has blessed us with. Our God is an awesome God!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


We got the call this morning- We have cleared the Embassy investigation stage of our adoption and have an Embassy appointment next Weds in Addis. So, in the past 3 hours, we've been scouring for plane tickets. This time around, they are even more expensive than last time..ugh...Elli, Bert and I will leave Monday, arriving in Addis Tuesday night. We will pick up the kids Weds morning and head to the Embassy. Then, we just get to hang out in Addis, with the kids, until we leave again Sunday morning. This adoption ride is so incredibly crazy-lots of waiting and then hurry, hurry, hurry. BUT, our kids are worth it.

The pictures above were taken last week, when they received another care package from us.

In less than 2 weeks, all Sweeneys will be on the same continent--WHEW!!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Tonight, as we sleep, our agency should be submitting our paperwork to our Embassy. We will then be assigned an Embassy date. The first possible Embassy date is August 4 and then every other week after that. Our hope is to bring our kids home in August, so we can have a couple of weeks before we start school.

We just heard from two traveling families that our kids are doing really well. One family calls them "golden" because they have such fun personalities. Another family is taking a care package to each one this next week. Our prayer is that they know we are thinking about them and praying for them continually. They are not forgotten....

As we wait, we are having one last week at our cabin with my sister and family. We have had a great week of horseback riding, playing in the lakes, hikes, card games and tie dying shirts (We all have one , including Mike)..Tomorrow night we're heading to the Rodeo ( I love Rodeo time) and then Mike and I have a class reunion Friday and Saturday..I look forward to sharing these adventures with Micah, Leah, Gabe and Hallie. I saw a shirt that read "Why should we live like kings and queens when they have nothing at all?" As I spend time in the mountains, with my family, I am reminded that I do live like a queen, and there are millions of children out there with nothing at all.. Lord, please let us all make these precious children feel like the kings and queens they are...

Pictures posted tomorrow.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The blessing

Last Friday, before our court hearing, we had the opportunity to meet with our children's uncle. He testified in court that he was happy to relinquish them to us and then we were able to sit with him for over an hour at a small cafe and hear him pour out his heart about our children. This proved to be the highlight of the week for me, as we sat there and learned about our children's history, the love of their father and mother and mostly, the love of their Uncle, as he continually thanked us for taking them into our family. These children have been well loved and it is such an honor to receive the blessing of their Uncle as we start our lives together.