Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

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!