Visiting Lalibela

Visiting Lalibela

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A few pearls

Boy, have we ever been learning a lot these past few weeks about helping a wounded heart heal. We certainly aren't perfect parents, but feel blessed to have a community of help out there to make suggestions to us. The following has worked well here and peace has returned to our house. More importantly, this child's smile has returned...

1.Take yourself out of the discipline decisions- I now have a cup with different jobs in it, like "clean out the refrigerator" or "sweep the floors of the bathrooms". The child, who has misbehaved, then reaches into the cup to take the desired chore. This takes me completely out of the discipline and it WORKS!!! I then choose a similar job close to the child to do, so we're close to each other and by the end of us getting our jobs done, the child is usually happy and talking...WHEW!!!

2. Kids with attachment issues may have to learn from someone else. As a homeschool Mom this was the hardest decision to make. It seems so counterintuitive, when a child is dealing with attachment, to not have them close to me. I LOVE having my kids home with me each day, but this child in particular, was struggling with learning from me and then allowing me to be the Mommy. We now have a plan in place that the child learns from someone else 2 hours/day and comes home READY to accept my hugs, my teaching (still doing math at home) and all interactions have been so positive.

3. I constantly tell myself, "God loves and created this child." WOW, what a difference an attitude adjustment on my part makes.

4. Diet-We've eliminated almost all sugar from the diet and are focusing on excellent nutrition. We love our Juice Plus supplements, daily fish oil (see below), natural antifungals and LOTS OF YOGURT. I have read so many articles by people much smarter than me about nutrition and its role in helping kids heal. Our physician here recommended a book to me called, "Sugars that Heal." I am a firm believer in the value of nutrition in all kids and especially in kids who have been malnurished. (Gabe, Hallie and Micah have all grown 4.5 inches since August) Our grocery/supplement bill might be up a bit, but our trips to the MD have been few and far between.

5. Nightly family prayer time. We spend about 15 minutes every night talking about our day and praying together as a family. This has been a huge help in bringing us closer together. I've heard "You can't pray for someone and be mad at them." I believe it's true and it's an amazing gift to hear my kids thank God for each other and truly lift each other up each night. I wish everyone who ever questioned, "What will this do to your biological kids?" could hear them pray for their siblings each night. What this adoption has done is grow us, stretch us and increase our capacity to love.

6. The Yes Ma'am chart. I love Michelle Duggar. Mike and I watch the Duggars each week to learn helpful parenting tips. In her book, Michelle talks about the importance of a joyful attitude when a child is given a task to do for Mom. She expects her kids to answer with "Yes Ma'am" or "Yes Ma'am, I'd be happy to." We have started a Yes Ma'am chart here (or Yes Sir, if It's Mike doing the asking). It is amazing how quickly we've seen kids say those words after a request is made. It can be as simple as, "Please hurry and get your coat on." When they say "Yes Ma'am", I know they actually heard me and I'm doing a lot less repeating. I LOVE polite kids and this has REALLY helped around our home.

My kids BEG to take the fish oils shown above- it is so important for all of them, especially my 5 from ET, who missed out on years of essential fatty acids, but all of us need these important oils. We like the Mango Peach the best and it can be ordered on or IT!

This picture doesn't show it very well, but my husband designed this boot/glove/hat dryer when we went skiing in Bozeman in February. (He actually built it in our hotel room, after a quick run to Home Depot) It is usually heard running every afternoon, after the kids have their outside play time. It can hold ALL of their gloves at once and even has valves to close off different parts if they're not needed...pretty cool, isn't it?

I couldn't resist putting in a picture of Dixie, after she ran in the wet snow last week. These snowballs, do not come off and get pretty painful for her so she gets a few extra baths in the winter, to get them off...Yes, we still have snow..No, we haven't seen our grass since November...but the oil work continues to grow and grow and grow.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Eyes Opened: Kirill's Story

Our Eyes Opened: Kirill's Story

Please read this story and pray for this family.

Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know, and holds us responsible to act." Prov. 24:12

Friday, March 25, 2011

Urgent prayers and support needed for Webit

Friends- I received this email from Karen Wistrom last night. Karen is the coordinator for both Kind Hearts (where our sponsor child goes to school ) and Trees of Glory. These are two carepoints that Childrens Hopechest sponsors in Ethiopia. Please read her email and respond.
Anything in color, I have added for emphasis.
You can see pictures of Webit on Karen's blog.

Dear Trees of Glory sponsor families -

I got an urgent email from Children's Hopechest today about a 7 year old little girl at Trees of Glory named Webit. She is sponsored by Laura and Charlie Herwehe, who had the privilege of meeting Webit in January when they travelled to Ethiopia to adopt their son.

When Laura and Charlie first met Webit, their joy quickly turned to concern as they noticed that Webit was limping and was in considerable pain. Even though Webit was excited and happy to meet her sponsor family, she could not hide her pain and she whimpered and cried during their meeting.

The Herwehe's inquired about her situation and found out that Webit has a leg deformity, but she recently had gotten a sore on her foot that had become infected. It was treated by the witch doctor (all 5 of my ET kiddos have been treated by witch doctors, with burning rituals for a variety of things and have even seen the soft spot on babies' head burned to "close it") in her village, which had caused even more inflammation and it seemed the infection was spreading up her leg rendering her barely able to walk. Webit's sister had carried her on her back to the care-point that day, so she could meet her sponsor family.

Click HERE to read Laura's blog post about that meeting.

As soon as Laura and Charlie got home, they contacted me and Children's Hopechest. Since then, Hopechest has been navigating the complex process of getting treatment for Webit's injuries and illness. Because her family is too poor to pay for treatment, Hopechest had to show that they could acquire funding for her care. Webit's family then had to get several stamps and approvals and paperwork to refer her for treatment at a clinic in Addis. Once she was seen there, the doctor diagnosed a type of cancer that had caused the original deformity which made her susceptible to infection. Hopechest and the staff in Ethiopia have been working on getting her admitted to the hospital for treatment - and today Webit took a turn for the worse.

Her medical card had just been appoved and she has now been admitted to the Black Lion Medical Hospital in Ethiopia and will be seen by her original doctor tomorrow.

I am sending this email to all sponsors at Trees of Glory and Kind Hearts because your urgent intercessory prayer is needed for healing and comfort for this precious little girl and her family. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for her doctor as he makes decisions for her immediate treatment. I wish we had more details about her condition, her treatment and her prognosis. I will keep you informed as we get information from Ethiopia.

In addition to your prayers, the family is in need of funds to pay for her hospitalization and treatment. We have set up a fund at Children's Hopechest and have asked the hospital to provide for her care and treatment - having faith that the funds would be available when they are needed.

Please go to the Hopechest website at and click on GIVE.
Under "Choose a Fund", specify DESIGNATED GIFT
Enter the 9 digit account code ET2119000
In the notes area, specify MEDICAL

Please spread the word to your friends and family so that we can raise these funds immediately. And please pray for Webit Bekele .

I will have information and photos on my blog later this evening. A photo of Webit is attached along with a photo of Webit with the Herwehe family.

Thank you for your prayers and your committment to the kids at Trees of Glory and especially for Webit!

Warm regards, Karen Wistrom
Sponsor coordinator, Ethiopia



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One Less

Love this!! Wouldn't you like to help a child be ONE LESS? You'll be forever thankful that you did!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Gavin

Two years ago, our Gavin made the trip of a lifetime, from his native village of Bench Maji, to an orphanage, and then our agency's transition home. At the same time, we were on our Quest for Gavin, not knowing who he was, or how old he was. We are so PROUD to call him our son! This "little dude" brings such joy to our home. He said this morning, "Mom, I just can't seem to take my smile off."

Gavin's birthday cake was another creation from his siblings, this time with fondant soccer players (Gavin and Layne) and an entire soccer scheme- I love how creative my kids are and that I can just say, "Go for it." and it gets done.

The gifts for Gavin were very personal as well. Janika purchased a dog trick book, for them to teach the dogs together. Kael chose a mitt, so the two of them can play catch together and Gabe chose a General Grevis character from Star Wars. I keep expecting to hear one of the boys scream from the basement as someone puts it in someone else's bed at night, but they've been so worn out with the improved weather that it's been pretty quiet at bedtime. Mom and Dad gave him a lego Star Wars kit and guess what, his best buddy from Ethiopia got the same gift from his family!!! They had a lot to talk about today on the phone.

We have learned a lot this week too about different parenting techniques to use with children from hard places. We are so thankful to be surrounded by wise counsel and prayer warriors here, whom I can call and say, "Please pray for my child." After meeting with a seasoned teacher, here in town, we came away with "zip our lips." This concept is really hard for me, especially, as I want to talk with the child about the behaviors and the steps to overcome certain things. What the kids really need is for me to zip my lips and move on, then delay the consequence, so the outcome is not always predictable. When we are all calm, the child can have a good little talk about the said behaviors. These ideas are not rocket science, but sometimes, it takes an outside source to see the whole picture. Thank you, my prayer warriors. We know God answers prayers and it is so fun to see little hearts healing and peace in our home.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God’s Gift to Me

God’s Gift to Me (a guest post by my dad) | Whipple Words

THIS IS A WOW GOD READ!!! I couldn't not link this blog post. If it doesn't work to click on the link above, scroll down to my blog list and click on Whipple Words. Thanks, Janet and family for sharing this story!!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Prayers needed for Ethiopia

I've been on several blogs this weekend that talk about the Ethiopian government reducing adoptions by 90%. My first reaction was WHAT?!!! I'm still kind of in that frame of mind, but know too that this is a call to action. It is a call for Christians to help with ORPHAN CARE, even if adoptions cease (which I PRAY is never the case). Orphan care can look so very different for different people: It might mean taking a missions trip to carry shoes to orphaned children. It could mean sponsoring a child (or 20) so they get the nourishment and schooling they need. Orphan care could be investing in water projects to provide clean water to communities, thus allowing children to not lose parents to water borne diseases that could have been prevented. We could invest in mosquito netting and good malarial drugs (this may have prevented 4 of my children from becoming orphaned).

The truth is, we can all do something and we MUST. I wish everyone could see what we've seen and know what we know, but that's why our family continues to write this blog and tell others- WE MUST ADVOCATE for the orphan.

Is Ethiopia the only country with this problem- no! If you speak Spanish and love kids- there are plenty of Spanish speaking orphans who need people to come to them, serve them and love on them.

Finally, we understand that in adoptions, coruption exists. I personally believe that corruption would be less rampant if more people would really examine their hearts and seek God's will for their adoptions. Would less corruption exist if more older kids were adopted? Would putting an emphasis on the older orphan limit the number of infants placed into the system who could have been parented by their parent of birth? Most of the older children that we know have been waiting for a long time, sometimes years. Sure, there is a little extra baggage, but most of these children are truly orphans, in desperate need for a home.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Time away..

Our much anticipated Costco rebate coupon showed up in the mail on Thursday. To some, this might not seem like a big deal, but when you use your AMEX to purchase all of those plane tickets (9 total) and purchase your new business purchases with (and paid off each month), the rebate coupon adds up to alot!! Unfortunately, now that we live in ND, the nearest Costco is 5 hours away.

Friday afternoon, Mike and I hopped in his truck(pulling a trailer) and hit the road for Billings for a very rare night away. We had a great young lady stay with our kids here. We felt a bit like young marrieds, without kids in tow and LOVED our time together, time to enjoy each other, pray together and laugh together. Everything went super smooth until about 8:00 Friday night. Mike and I had just gotten back to the hotel after presaling Costco and got a call from Elli describing her littlest sister throwing up in her hands. Little L threw up not once, but 3 times~~~ this is NOT a common occurrance, since she had a NIssen when she was a baby and can't really throw up unless it's pretty violent~~ My Mommy's heart hurt, knowing that she was sick at home but was relieved to know that Elli, the other kids, and our helper knew how to help her. She probably couldn't have been in better hands. ~~ HUGE plus to homeschooling, all of the kids really know each other and know how to pitch in when someone else needs the help!!!

Saturday started with another phone call telling us she was feeling a bit better and she actually talked to me on the phone, which was reassuring...Then, it was off to Costco. Mike and I are used to lots of stares when we go out in public, but that's because of our large family size, not because we have two overflowing shopping carts between us- Mike's was actually the big flat bed kind...I had to laugh as we got into the check-out line and I saw all of the papertowels, napkins, toilet paper and SALSA in the carts. I'm sure the check-out guy was wishing we had gone through another line..the best part was we got a bunch back after we were finished!! BONUS!!

Little L was much better by the time we got home and all of the kids were thrilled we were home, especially little L and our little one who has struggled these past few weeks. Mike and I were both pretty well rested and refreshed and ready to dive back in. I was reminded how much I LOVE this man and our time together. THANK YOU MJ for staying with our kids and remaining calm when my sweet baby was sick. THANK YOU big kids for all of our your help and your great attitudes about Mommy and Daddy taking a date. Even though we had a great time, we were definitely happy to be home with EVERYONE. We LOVE THIS FAMILY!!!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bench Maji

Yesterday, we received the greatest gift for our son, Gavin. Back in late 2010, one of the Dads to one of his friends traveled to Ethiopia to try and find the village our children are from. It was a tough trip and when it looked hopeless, God led him directly to Bench Maji, the most remote village out of 3500 villages in the southern region of Ethiopia. He was able to spend time with Gavin's family, taking videos and pictures...

Last night, as a family, we watched the videos and viewed the pictures together- WOW, what a beautiful place he is from, lush green grash, banana trees everywhere, grass and mud huts and beautiful people. We had a video of Gavin's uncle explaining his early years and how he came to be put up for adoption. The love that he has for our son was evident in his face when he talked about him and saw pictures of him. We have video of the inside of the home he spent the first few years of his life in!! I think the highlight for us all was when the Ethiopian pastor, who acted as a translator said, "Bench is the most remote village here and now we have 5 children from our village in America. " They are thrilled for their children and hope for great things from them. We hope to be able to make the same trip someday soon. We are so very thankful ~what an amazing gift for our son to have for the rest of his life.

I won't share Gavin's story, but thought everyone might want to take a peek at some of the area of Bench Maji...

This is Gavin's house

These beautiful people are his grandparents

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the rocking chair

I'm going to be really careful here to share some strategies that seem to be helping one of our adopted children, without compromising that child's identity and/or privacy. So many things go unspoken on adoption blogs, especially the truth when a family or child is struggling. I know the reason behind this- adoptive parents don't want to discourage others from adopting. We all know what a blessing it is, and we've seen the thousands of children waiting for homes. However, the truth is these beautiful, wonderful, children come from the hardest of hard places and many will struggle when they come home. They have lived through the worst experiences one could imagine (our kids's stories would amaze you) and they need the love of a family to deal with these things. Our road has been VERY easy compared to a lot of families, (for that we are forever thankful to God) but there are still a few bumps in the road.

Our wonderful social worker suggested something this weekend that I had read on another family's blog, using the rocking chair as a place for attachment. WOW is all I can say- two nights of rocking in the rocking chair, singing songs that would have been sung to any infant in my house, and we seem to have a new child in our home. I was even told, "Thank you Mom, that is nice when you sing to me," as this child went to bed. Adoptive families, please don't dismiss the articles that talk about taking the child back a few years and work on bonding as you would if that child had been an infant in your home. Holding and rocking any child does wonders for your own heart too.

Thank you for all of you who pray for our family. We know without a doubt, that this is why our kids are doing so well- they have an army of prayer warriors faithfully lifting them and us up. We also know that is why our kids who were here before are doing so well with all of the transition they've had. Rolling with the punches has become a way of life for them and they are rolling like champions. I can't wait to see how God uses these experiences in their lives!

Finally, we have the best social worker, who is available any time we have questions and always has suggestions for us to help us grow into the family that we all desire. She is such an encouragement along the way and helps us to encourage other families to adopt (which isn't hard, because we would love to see all good capable Christian families adopt and more children find forever families). Thank you, Lisa, if you're reading this- you make our jobs as parents, much, much easier.