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)