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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hope for the Hopeless Video



..... from our trip with Mark and Julie.

Brooke and Kim this is especially for you :-)


video

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hope in Pictures

Here we are at the Hope for the Hopeless property. L to R Akliliu (Aki) our awesome driver from Ethiopian Guest House who became a very good friend, Jen, Julie, Fikadu the director of Hope for the Hopeless in Addis, the construction manager, Mark. We prayed over the land and the construction looking forward to the day when the children could be living there. Notice the doors and windows thanks in large part to the benefit concert held in Phoenix! There's more work to be done but they are making strides.

Jen and Hanok. This guy's super bright and instantly endears himself to everyone he meets. His English in impressive and made for some great conversation. He's such a leader amongst the children. They all look up to him.


My buddie Kebron on the left. He never left my side. With huge eyes begging the question "Will you notice me?" My answer was YES!

Julie and the littlest girls. This crew was a hoot. So bubbly and full of laughter. They adored themselves in pictures all thanks to Brooke who took pictures of the kids on her trip to Addis last July and had the genius idea to make prints for the children.













The simple joy of seeing themselves in photos. It was a lot to realize they have probably never had their own photos of themselves.














Samson is THE MAN at the Drop In Center. The kids LOVE him. He is a kid magnet. He does the counseling and he is the man on the streets developing relationships with the street kids and bringing them to Hope. He was quiet but his presence spoke volumes!







Sunday, December 28, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I had to delete all the posts I tried to make from Addis. My blog has been acting funny. Hopefully deleting them will fix things.

I just hopped on to tell everyone we made it home safely after having major trouble with a cancelled flight out of DC. We flew to Minn and then to Phx and arrived late last night. It was grueling but we were SO relieved to be home. Jonas is well. He's sleeping right now in fact.

I am SICK today. I slept until 2pm. Woke up feeling very flu-like and having some GI upset. We're all being very lazy and enjoying each other. Dustin is taking great care of me and the baby ;-)

To all our friends, I will call you this week. I just need to recover and feel better! It was a wonderful trip yet a LONG trip. I had a great last week in Addis so it's pretty disappointing to arrive home and be sick. The baby is sick too. He's had the classic orphanage diarrhea and he's extremely congested. He goes to the doc Tues. I go Wed (?), I think.

........A full account of the trip including photos and video to follow.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Ride in the Ambulance

I got to ride in an ambulance yesterday. Always wondered what they looked like on the inside. Now I know.

I had been hanging out with my sister at her home. It was our last visit before Dustin and I leave in two days for Ethiopia to pick up Jonas. We were eating lunch when I began to feel what I can only describe as not-so-well. Something funny was happening to me.

I went into the restroom, and as I was washing my hands at the sink I noticed that they were a funny color. I laughed a bit at how pale they appeared. It was as if I was wearing purple nail polish.

I called my sister to come and take a look at how pale they were. When she walked in I brought my hands up to my face. In that short amount of time my arms had turned the most horrifying purple-blueish color imaginable. They didn't look like they belonged to me. They looked more alien than human. I thought, "Oh, this is what a dead person looks like without that make-up they put on them." That was right about the time I began to feel dizzy and nearly fainted. My heart was racing uncontrollably. I felt that adrenaline rush which happens when your body knows something isn't right and your mind hasn't caught on yet.

I began praying.

In that moment I was pretty sure something terribly wrong was happening. I felt I was in danger of dying.

Valerie, my poor sister, began praying and fighting the panic my condition wanted to draw out of her. She called my hubby who told her to call an ambulance. Unspoken between us was the thought that I was about to die. Right there on her bedroom floor, in front of all our kids.

"No you don't!" my sister yelled and began praying and calling on the sweet name of Jesus.

Questions like, "is this really the way I'm gonna go Lord? Like this?!" volleyed with, "I know this is from the enemy. I have a plane to catch and kids to preach the Gospel to..... MY SON waiting for me. This just can't happen right now."

I have truly never felt that close to death and I was scared. I couldn't be too scared though, because my poor kids were starting to panic.

As the paramedics arrived and then wheeled me out I left my poor sister with 5 crying kids, a wacked out barking dog, and tears welling up in her eyes.

"I get to ride in an ambulance, guys! It's fun! Don't worry kids. Mom's just gotta get to a doctor."

Had I known it was going to be such a public day I probably would have shaved my legs and thrown on some makeup or something. My goodness, it is so humbling to be so weak, so dependant on strangers- all while looking in shambles, at that. It did occur to me, though, that blue extremities don't coordinate with any outfit I own anyhow!

My brain scanned scenarios desperately trying to preclude any need for the EMTs to cut open my shirt.

"As long as this heart is still ticking I shouldn't have to worry," I thought, "I definitely am not in the mood to become that intimate with this group of EMT/Fireman."

The nervous looks on their faces were a bit disconcerting. They were looking at me heads tilted asking things like, " Are you sure you're not it pain?" and "You're not feeling tightness in your chest?"

Now, my sister lives quite near a retirement community so I figured I was in the safest place in the world to have heart issues considering that those are the bulk of cases the medical professionals in the area treat, BUT I was young, and they didn't quite know what to do with me.
I was taken to the sister hospital of the one my mother works at. Did I mention my mom works in QUALITY MANAGEMENT? Yup, Once the ER docs and personnel found that out they were so wonderful to me! I seemed to receive amazingly fast treatment. You know, like is usually unheard of receiving. Tests came back quickly. Results were read immediately. Yea, it's so nice to have someone on the inside.

Of course the down side (which isn't really a down side at all) is that my mom is also a nurse. That means she wanted to nurse me.

I literally felt like I was in the 6th grade again. My dad came down for a visit and I kindly greeted him by having another "episode" where my resting heart rate shot to 155. Bells were ringing and buzzers were going off. Dad looked a tad freaked out. I couldn't comfort him because I was feeling too crumby to do anything. A few other family members came in to visit ( I got a lotta peeps, you guys) and I started to laugh imagining the ER staff must think me a diva. My Big 'ol family had to come down for a little racing pulse. They're my entourage. What can I say? I'm cool like that.

So back to the tests. CT scan for Pulmonary Embolism: Negative. Echo- cardiogram: normal heart structure. Blood tests: normal. Thyroid function: normal. Resting heart rate between 112-155: not normal.

At the end of a very long day I was released and told that it is possible I have electrical conduction issues that will have to be monitored. I have been given a new medication that helps to slow down the heart rate.

I slept well last night, and feel a bit tired today but well. As long as my heart beats at a regular rate I'm fine. And ,the doctors cleared me to travel to Ethiopia with a caution to take it easy.

I ask all of my bloggy friends to pray for us. We need your prayers for protection. How could I be anything other than impressed with how fragile our lives are. How they hang in the balance. How the LORD our God is the Sustainer of our lives and if that Hand ever be removed there's no fighting it. You die.

Praise God for His mercy and for His healing hand over my life. I thank Him for protecting me and having me be in the right place at the right time (if ever there was a good place to be, or a good timing for something undesirable to happen this was it) and for giving me breath for yet another day; to go and live the wonderful life He's blessed me with. It is such a gift.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Preparing to leave



Well, This will most likely be my last post before we leave. I wanted to make sure to wish eveyone a Merry Christmas before things got really crazy around here.

I also wanted to include a list of blogs for the other families we are traveling with so you can keep up with our whole Travel Group if you'd like.

Stager Family

Burk Family

Caldwell Family

Sparr Family

Tennant Family

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thank you!

I want to thank everyone who gave via my Chip-In button for the kids at Hope for the Hopeless You all rock! We exceeded our goal thanks to your generosity. Some of you gave even while you're adopting yourselves and bringing donations to other orphanages. How can I say how much I adore you!? There are not enough words of thanks. Just know you're precious to me!

I can't wait to fill you in on how God uses that money to bless the kids.

I'd like to take a minute to thank you for all your comments of congratulations for our family. Dustin and I had a blast reading through them together. It was great to have so many sharing in our joy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- We Passed!

It's official! Jonas Liben is our son. Enjoy.....
video

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- ?Travel?



Here's where things stand regarding travel.

Two precious families from our Travel Group did not pass court and we are aching so much with them. We are committed to praying with them through the wait to bring their children home. Another family has "until the end of the week" for their paperwork issues to be straightened out. It's a tough situation but not impossible, so we are praying HARD for them.

I told you yesterday that we hadn't heard anything. Seems not everyone in our Travel Group has had their day in court yet. Hence the reason WHY we heard nothing. We think it's our turn tomorrow or possibly Friday. Well, it's most likely this week anyway, and there are only two days left... so take your pick. I choose sooner rather than later but it's not really up to me, is it?

I, for some unexplainable reason, feel like we're going to hear tomorrow though I can't back that statement up with any proof. I also feel like we're going to pass though, again, no proof. Just HOPE.

So, I've got Hope. That and I colored my hair tonight, which means I'm pretty much ready to rock and roll.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Wait Another Day

I guess we won't be hearing any news today. A few families did not pass and we are so sad for them. I was sure we must have failed to pass courts when they told us their news but we haven't heard. Now I am wondering if our court date wasn't today and it is later this week? Looks like we have more waiting to do.

Thanks to everyone who has been praying, calling and sending notes of encouragement and solidarity to us. We appreciate it!

Monday, December 1, 2008

More Freezer Food

I made SEVEN freezer meals today with the help of my loving sis. She came over and helped me finish up the last of the items i was hoping to have made before we leave (Thanks Val!) Apyrl mentioned she might like some new recipes so this is for you , friend.

This is so quick and easy it hardly constitutes a recipe but on thing I love to do I stick a big 'ol pork roast in a crock pot with 2 cans of salsa verde and a few small can's of Green chiles. Cook all day and then shred. This freezes well. When It's time for dinner you can defrost the meat and serve on soft fried corn tortillas with some Jack cheese. YUM-O! We love 'em.

My hubby took my recipe for Mexican Lasagna to work with him on accident so I will have to post that later tonight......

PS- We should hopefully hear news tomorrow about our court case and if indeed we will actually be traveling on Sunday. I've been working hard to contain my excitement and to always keep a thread of reality that it's not in the bag yet. I feel hopeful though. Stay tuned tomorrow for an update. If you see a video with our precious Jonas in it you'll know we passed :)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Early a.m. Phone Calls



So I'm lying there in bed trying to sleep in late after the Thanksgiving holiday when in walks hubby at 8:30 a.m. (hardly a decent hour for someone who's trying to make a day of it!) who hands me the phone saying, "Someone really needs to talk to you." Mind you, my brain isn't functioning when I hear, "One down, one to go!" It's Julie on the phone telling me they passed court!

Yah-hooo!!! I am sooo excited. There will be no going back to sleep for me. She mentions that now Dustin and I just need to pass so our wish to travel together together can come true.

We are praying for Tuesday!!!

Go catch a glimpse of Wendemagegn and Beza Gumm and congratulate our good friends. We are soooo excited for them!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Chip In Widget



Hey friends! Our family is teaming up with the Gumm family to raise some more funds for the kids at Hope for the Hopeless (H4H). We plan to buy some items in country needed for the move to their new location, including warm clothes, jackets, blankets, food, medicines, etc. As of right now Dustin and I have to find a way to squeeze our clothes into half a large suitcase. All the rest of our baggage allotments have been filled with donations. Praise the Lord!! We may even need to pay extra bag fees for the items we are collecting if we run out of space (which would be a GREAT problem to have.) Julie has a great list if you'd prefer to send items with us instead of cash. However, If you'd like to contribute cash we've made it easier than ever. Simply click the Chip In button on my side bar or you can follow this link and contribute that way as well. EVERY PENNY given will go to H4H!

We are asking you to consider just $5 to help us reach our goal of $300. We sure wouldn't mind you spreading the word on your blogs about our efforts as well. Every bit helps.

You can check back here or on Julie's blog often to see updates about what your gifts are accomplishing as we use them to minister to the kids at Hope for the Hopeless in Jesus' name.

Thanks! and we wish you a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Where Was This Hiding?

Somehow after following link after link (you know how that goes) I stumbled upon this site. It's awesome. It has all the Black Friday ads in one place.

http://www.black-friday.net/

Thought this might come in handy for you all. Happy Bargain Hunting!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- A Little Help From My Friends

Yesterday was a hard day for me. Right about 11:30 pm a floodgate let loose and the tears came rushing out. You'd think with us being just over 2 weeks away from travel and with all the details coming together with so much to look forward to I would have been rejoicing. But, it wasn't the case.

My sweet travel buddie Anna wrote a great post. In it she expresses so many of the feelings and questions I've been asking myself time and time again. Then my favorite Sassy Granny wrote another post that struck a cord in me. There's a common theme there and it's not lost on me. Praise and Worship. I need to be doing it right now.

Will you please pray for us?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Progress Has Been Made



Okay guys, since my last post Julie and Mark were able to reserve tickets for the same flights we are on. ALL of them! Isn't that amazing!

We also booked (right Julie!?) our accommodations at the Ethiopia Guest House for the first week we will be in ET. We are sharing a suite that has a common family room area and a common bathroom. That way we can have lots of extra room to sort and organize all our donations, etc. Stays at EGH include breakfast and lunch with the option to purchase dinners very inexpensively ($5).

In other news 3 more families have been added to our tentative travel group. That bring the total to 11 families. That at least 22 adults. WOW we're going to be a large group! I am super excited. Our large size means that we will most likely be staying at the Addis View Hotel for the second portion of our stay in Ethiopia.

Lastly, I am working on taking the curriculum a friend who directs the elementary program at our church loaned me and making it more appropriate for the orphanage setting. I'm simplifying language and reworking stories for the smaller setting. I am super excited. We've got three messages to share. It should be a blast. I can't wait to hang out with the kids!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Travel?



My friend Julie's panic attack sent me into a spiral yesterday. Her list reminded me of a few things I've yet to do. One important thing was to register for Ethiopian Airlines frequent flyer program. I'm working on that this morning.

Julie and I strategized on the phone last night. We threw out all the things that have been circulating in our brains related to where we're going to stay, what our schedule will be like. All that stuff. Not that we actually came to any real decisions last night. We're still working out the details. She is working to get some tickets for herself and her family on the flights Dustin and I will be taking. Hopefully there will still be some available. I am praying they pass court the first time through. SO MUCH has to happen for us to be able to travel together.

We purchased our tickets yesterday. We decided it had to be done. Again. The net cost increase was only $152.00. ($50 of that was the change fee) We feel good about getting our seats reserved before fare increases went up significantly especially in light of only having a few days notice before potential travel. Now, we just need to pass. I have a small amount of confidence because Duni our ET program director will be moving back to Addis Ababa before our court date. I don't know if it will be so, but part of me believes she'll do whatever it takes to get those letters from MOWA over to the courts for us in time.

My packing has been coming along. I've got one large suitcase and two 18 gal containers filled with donations so far. My Christmas shopping hasn't been progressing. I'm in a crunch. We've been scrimping and saving for in country expenses so I haven't really gotten anything accomplished on that front. It's down to the wire. It may be that we are doing shopping on Christmas eve. Ugh, the thought of that makes me feel very tired.

So that's where we are. 2 weeks and 5 days from potential travel.

Friday, November 14, 2008

For Mel (and anyone else looking for pointers)

You asked for some pointers. I don't know that I am the lady for the job but I'll give it a whirl since yesterday I was a novice and today I seem to think I am some kind of pro or something :)

Here's a list of the recipes I am trying. Once you get to the websites you can search their selection for some more meals that appeal to you. I just did a simple google search and all these recipes and more popped up. I have a few other recipes that aren't online that I will take the time to type up in the coming days.

Chicken Divan
Bacon Wrapped Chicken
Chipotle Macaroni Casserole
Chicken Quesadillas
Mediterranean Tuna Casserole
Ciao Bella Chili
Lasagna Primavera


Other than collect the recipes, all I did to prepare was stock up on freezer bags, foil, plastic wrap and disposable baking pans at our local bulk warehouse store. That was it. Oh, and I had to do a good spring cleaning on the deep freeze.

Soups or Chilis are double bagged and stored flat in the freezer one on top of the other to conserve space.

Dustin says that if I stick with this he'll look into a food sealer thing-y for me. (yes that's the technical word for it ) which might come in handy for long term freezing but I'll have to see if it's worth the cost.

Chile Relleno Casserole

This is one of the recipes I found which is supposed to be good for freezing. I made some major modifications to it and Dustin says it's thumbs up winner destined for many repeats in our household.

There is a Mexican restaurant in our neighbourhood that makes chicken stuffed chile rellenos to die for. I was hoping to make something close enough to satisfy my cravings and did a pretty successful job of it. Here's what I did. I bought 2 27oz cans whole mild Chiles (remember I am making double batches) one can for each casserole pan. I used 1 1/2 lbs Monterey Jack cheese cut a little smaller than the recipe calls for because I planned on stuffing the chiles with chicken as well. I placed four boneless skinless chicken breasts in my pressure cooker along with a can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, about 1/2 tbs minced garlic and about 1/2 cup chicken broth plus 1/2 cup water and cooked them for 10-15 mins. When the chicken was finished I shredded it and added back in the tomatoes, shredding them as well. Next came some ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste. I softened cream cheese to room temp and mixed it in with the chicken and tomatoes. I proceeded to stuff the chiles with the chicken mixture and a think slice of cheese. The recipe calls for what was in my opinion WAY too much of the milk, egg, flour mixture so I split the amount that is supposed to be used for 6 servings and used it for 12. Next I layered cheddar cheese on top along with some breadcrumbs but next time I think I would crumble some tortilla chips over the top and bake it that way instead. Overall I think it was really good. The kids picked all the stuffing out at ate that leaving their chiles destined for the trash but I didn't expect them to be super jazzed about them. After all, they are green. Served with a side of Mexi-rice this is a delicious meal.

A Meal Machine

For those of you who know me best...... you better take a seat before reading this post. Mom, especially you for I fear that I may have gone against a long standing unwritten family rule. You know the one that cast the women of our family into the category of hopelessly bad cooks by causing us to believe we have a bad cooking gene, or something!?

Well, folks I do believe I have been delivered from the generational curse of bad cooking! hahahahaha It's not just bad cooking that runs in my family. It's lack of vision, preparation, passion, vigor. I come from a long line of women that would rather attend a political march and get tear gassed than spend a prolonged amount of time in the kitchen. It's not that the desire isn't there. It's just that we have some SERIOUS handicaps related to meal preparation to overcome and have never found the zeal to begin the laborious process of jumping the hurdles before us. I think my mom and Grams would agree we're a family with "issues" (said lovingly and jokingly) and cooking has always been the least of our worries.

Many of you have fond memories of childhoods filled with glorious bonding moments revolving around Grandma's freshly baked homemade pie, or perhaps getting special lessons from your mother on how to perfectly prepare the family's famous secret recipe handed down generations. Not. Me. There was NONE of that. That is not to say my mom and Grams aren't wonderful nurturing women. They just preferred to flex their mothering muscles outside the kitchen.

In my grandmother's defence, she not so much a bad cook as much as, maybe, a simplistic one. Her childhood was extremely difficult. She was a child of the depression with a father who, I am told, had a tendency to drink the family's grocery money away. She grew up thankful for each and every meal. She was contented with simplicity. Her husband being older than her by... If I remember correctly 13 years!!!.... (that's another interesting story. I believe I will have to do a whole post on my Grams, Evelyn in the near future) required a bland diet for his health. Grams didn't require as much variety in her diet to be content so often times meals were repeated with frequency and bland in nature, although the preparation wasn't laking.

My mother's issues lie in the preparation. She has some vision with regard to the type of meals she'd like to prepare but it never fails that something happens to throw things off kilter. It could be that whenever we're around (which is when she suddenly feels the spark of inspiration to cook something new) she ends up spending more time investing in her family relationally, being that she's a quality time love language person, than watching over her cooking meal as an acts of service love language person would do. She admits to me that she actually had no clue how to cook a hot dog when she first got married. She tells the story of the first day my father asked her to make him some for lunch. She stood in the kitchen and pondered how long they needed to cook. Best she could figure, thirty minutes boiling should do the trick. When my father finally came in and asked what the hold up was she learned that hot dogs are precooked and just need to be reheated. Ya know, I've got many more stories but the Bible says to honor your mother and father so I'll just stick with the one example ;)

So here I am. Striking out on my own. Entering uncharted territory.

Yesterday I discovered the MOST amazing thing. Now, I am sure this will not be new to you, but to me it was a revelation. Wanna know what it was.... Freezer cooking. Not just making a meal here and there and freezing it but OAMC. (Once A Month Cooking) I have heard little bits and pieces about it on people's blogs but never really payed much attention before, thinking that OAMC freezer cooking was reserved for the top echelon of uber-organized domestic queens. Sure it must require hours of advance planning and a battle tested strategy of attack. Apparently, NOT........ And, I've been missing out all this time!

So I armed myself with 11 fairly straight forward recipes and decided I would start with four this week. I did our usual grocery shopping and purchased all the ingredients for each of the four freezer meals in duplicate so I could make a meal to eat this week and freeze the others for when Dustin and I are away.

Last night I made 2 out of the 4 recipes and had 4 meals total. Two to eat this week and 2 to freeze. It took me an hour and a half to make 4 meals! Wahhoooo. Life will never be the same again! I am in love! And the best part is that our grocery bill didn't increase. It was roughly the same we usually pay because many of the items we needed were two-for deals or we were able to buy super bulk and save more.

I know those of you veteran freezer cooks must be laughing at this point. Seems so simple, and it is. I don't know why I didn't try this before. I'm not sayin' that from this point on our family will subsist on frozen fare alone but I do plan to keep a stock of prepared meals for my convenience from now on.

... I seriously feel like a domestic genius right about now. Just let me have my moment ;-)
(Ahem, I can hear you giggling)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Places to Go, People to See



I mentioned briefly about the party I went to hosted by Yeshi and others in the local Ethiopian community and how it was a good time. Well, I was able to meet Yeshi's sister Yewbi there. We talked about Kebron Orphanage. Yewbi works here in the US as a nurse and much like Surafel she runs things for the orphanage in Ethiopia from here. Last July, during the heavy rains which came after the severe drought had killed off all the vegitation, the home was flooded and the walls to two bedrooms were completely washed out. I saw the pictures and believe me when I tell you it was something to see. Since that time the kids have been squeezed into two rooms and the home remains in disrepair.

Dustin and I were invited to go and visit the kids when we travel. So, we will. Our schedule seems to be filling up! Now we are officially collecting gifts for 4 orphanages. Kids Care Orphanage ( I can't find a website for KC but here is an article about it. This is where Jonas came from), our agency's Transition Home, Hope for the Hopeless and now Kebron Orphanage. It may be that we can only bring a small amount of items to Kebron (even though I'd love nothing more to lug a WHOLE BUNCH of gifts to them too.)

That sure seems like a lot. The whole trip. I am now actually to the point where I can't fathom what it's going to be like. I used to have some kind of mental picture, a small expectation as to what we could expect. Now, the whole thing has grown much larger than anticipated and ** in a hushed tone** it feels a bit..... scary, no that's not the word. Overwhelming. Yeah that's a better way to put it. It's tempting to wonder how God can use me and Dustin. My wonder could easily turn to fear if I let it, if I didn't keep fighting to remind myself IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!!!! (can I scream that any louder before it finally soaks in??) We have seemingly so little to give especially in light of so much need but I know better than concern myself much with that. (most of the time) We'll leave with Christ in our hearts and if one child finds the love of Jesus somehow, someway, by our actions during the time we are there then the trip will have been a GREAT success. I keep reminding myself that this is what we've been praying for!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

God Bless Our Troops

"Uncle Jimmy is a hero," my oldest daughter loves to say whenever we mention his name.

"He's in Iwack" the youngest one chimes in while her middle sister smiles ear to ear.

You just ask our girls and they'll tell you all about their soldier uncle.

Ask me and Dustin and we'd tell you about him, and other wonderful people we've been blessed to know who have served or are serving our country faithfully. Today we celebrate and honor them. Today our prayer is simple. Lord, thank you for our freedom and the people who have sacrificed to make sure we have it. Bless and protect our troops. Amen.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Got Pics!

Thanks to the wonderful Laughner family we now have SIX new photos of Jonas. With every new picture, every new angle from which we are able to view his handsome face we feel such satisfaction and joy in our hearts. Satisfaction that he is being well taken care of and joy at the sight of our beautiful child. Every picture is a gift and a treasure. The Laughners went out of their way to get these snap shots for us. Laughners we can't thank you enough!! I know I keep repeating myself but THANK YOU!!! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

The newest photos of Jonas are of him fresh out of a bath and he looks a little bit chilly ;-) He's wrapped in a towel. It was great to see his chest and arms to get a feel for his size. He looks very healthy but he's slender. I know that is to be expected. It's just that all three of our children by birth were chubsters. I am used to seeing "rubberband" lines at chubby wrists, forearms and biceps by his age. All Jonas' sisters had multiple butt cheeks by 8 months of age :)))) I've yet to receive an official TH update with Jonas' weight & height. I am anxious to get one before we travel. I'd like to know if he's going to fit the clothes appropriate for his age.

I've been working on a video for... gosh, well, I guess it's been about a year now. A visual chronicle of our journey. Finally the project has been amounting to something substantial lately. More and more photos of our boy are filling it up. The video will be available for your viewing pleasure once we pass court. Come on December 2nd!!! (we think, hope)

We can't wait for you to see him!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Shoemaker's Children...

You know that saying? Well, in this house it's the hairstylist's children who wait the longest to get proper haircare. It's been a while since they've had their hair trimmed. Rory is by far the most opinionated of the bunch. She really loves her hair short. There's no arguing with her. So that's what she got. The other two just had trims.








Monday, November 3, 2008

Party

It was busy over here this weekend. We ended with a bang. We hosted a pre-travel party with 65 or so of our friends and family. It was a great time. We wanted to thank our loved ones for their support and what better way to do it than with a big gathering. Since we decided we won't be having a large welcome home gathering we had to get the partying out of our system somehow.

Guests enjoyed catered Ethiopian food which included Beef Alecha, Doro Wat, Lentil Wat,
Cabbage with Potatoes and of course Injera with a smattering of American fare. We also enjoyed the yummiest cupcakes made by a woman at our church who should really own her own bakery. She's absolutely the BEST. She made miniature Ethiopian flags for each of the cupcakes. They were so wonderful.

It felt much like a wedding reception in that I fluttered around from person to person trying to get in some quality time with everyone (can you tell my love language?haha) but as events like this usually go I regretted that I didn't have as much time as I would've liked to catch up.


Last week I had gone to a party hosted by the Ethiopian friends and they served chicken nuggets for the kids. I thought it was so funny. We served some too. To which every kids there breathed a deep sigh of relief. Although some kids really liked the injera. Our kids really like it.

I told you I'm really expressive when I talk. The next few pictures are proof. Here I am trying to give a demonstration of how to serve and eat the food. By the looks of my face you'd think I just found a bug in the food or something. But no. That's just me talking. Ridiculous, I tell you!

My dad and Jan are some of the first to experience the new flavors.

Again, I have no clue what's wrong with my face in this picture. I was really happy, I swear!



My mom aka Mimi eater he food like a good grandma. Although her technique was lacking. She gave up bite size pieces and decided to roll her injera up like a burrito. I think she referred to it as Southwest/Ethio fusion. Whatever floats your boat mom.... just don't take that freak show to a restaurant in Ethiopia.

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Dressed Up

A 50's themed Ballerina:

Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra:






Tinkerbell:


















Red Letters Campaign- Refreshed



Hello bloggy friends. Praise God I have awoken today renewed. It's as though my tears watered a fresh crop of hope and faith in my heart. Thank you Jesus! All I can say is it's a true blessing from Him.

I received much comfort from my loving husband who was so tender with me yesterday despite his own immense sadness. He encouraged me with so much gentleness and truth. What a man!

You know that YG family I posted about two posts ago? They rallied around us like you cannot imagine. We had notes coming out our ears. On Facebook, on Twitter, right here on my blog. Next, came our church family. Many of whom sent notes, left comments, sent emails and ecards. How can a girl feel sorry for herself when she's got so many beloved friends encouraging her like that. I shared all the notes with Dustin and he agreed that everyone's prayers and encouragement was a healing balm applied straight from God's own hands to our hearts. Thank you to everyone who was a part of that! We love you!

Dustin and I prayed for ALL the children in Ethiopia last night with the same fervor we prayed for our own son. We prayed for all the families with AWAA no matter where they stand in the process. Because of that alone I feel like fruit has been born out of having to wait longer. Praise God. I can do trials as long as God gives me those little crumbs to follow (and He always does) on His trail of blessing, those tidbits that keep me moving along in Him.

It's been my experience that God builds in my life like a mason. It seems He layers prayers, truths and experiences in my life. Building upon foundations He may have set many months, sometimes years in advance. What can I compare it to? Well, ever been in a big city? One, say, like Chicago? Have you tried to take in the Sears Tower from the ground level standing at the front entrance? If you have you probably can still feel the pain in your neck. It's nearly impossible to view the whole picture from the foot of the massive tower. You need a little distance between yourself and it to really take in the grandeur. As you walk further away from the building more of it comes into view making it easier to grasp the whole picture.

That's how it seems to go in my relationship with Jesus. For many years I've been standing next to the Lord while he lovingly slapped mortar on the bricks of my life and stacked them. Sometimes I been able to see the purpose for which those particular bricks were laid. Other times I've not understood the reasons at all. For years now I've been witnessing construction of some sort. Many times over the years I've also found that the enemy has tempted me to look at the brick wall in front of me and think that it was simply that, a brick wall.

I am thankful to say that the Lord has awakened me this morning with a fresh perspective. He's bid me to take a few steps back. To revisit some of the prayers I've prayed in my heart and some of the ways He's answered them. He's called me to examine more intensely His handiwork layer after layer. What has begun to come into view is a project SO GRAND I could never have imagined it's consequence. We're talking a large scale, Wonder of the World, kind of project.

I am unashamed to say that I've prayed some pretty grand scale prayers these recent few years of my life, and that I am convinced God is not afraid to answer them. In fact, I believe He's gone about answering them from the moment I prayed them. He's been working faithfully on days when I could recognize His efforts, on days I forgot to consider His efforts, on days I didn't like what His efforts were producing in my life, and even on days I rejected His work outright. I am sorry to say that in the space between the prayer and the fulfillment of the answer I have been easily led into disbelief and mistrust at times. I am guilty of trading faith and trust for immediate gratification, something my flesh could cling to and grab on tightly to right away instead of waiting for the fulfillment of my hopes and clinging to Christ alone.

Today I am so humbled and thankful for the attitude adjustment which came riding on the back of a disappointment that blind sided me ( I fully expected to pass court, folks, despite every natural inclination which told me that it was not a helpful thing to convince myself of) As I've said, God has used the turn of events to invite me to take some steps back. I've been able to see the work in progress. I can see how wonderful an Architect He is. I may still not be able to fully comprehend what the finished product will look like but I can at least catch a glimpse of how much of God's glory is in the thing. I can see that it's clearly not about me anymore. The thing is WAAAAY over my head at this point.

I have been given this morning the opportunity to walk back up to the bricks in front of me and look more closely at their purpose. I can recall the glimpse God gave me from a distance and realize that this brick named WAITING which has taken up so much of my view supports another brick to come. One I haven't dreamed of or imagined at this point. Many bricks will follow. Imeasurably more. That's a promise and I am glad for it.

God be glorified!

2 Peter 3:9- The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Isaiah 62:6 & 7 (emphasis mine)- O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day andnight, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the Lord. Give the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Tears



Just got a phone call. We didn't pass court. We will be issued new court dates and a new Tentative travel date. We knew this was a possibility.

Must call travel agent. Lots of tears. I am crying but not crushed.

Will update stupid ticker later.

Red Letters Campaign- Whispers on the Wind



I am a teary mess again today as I have been following the blogs of our friends in Ethiopia. God has done amazing things this trip. Many miracles have occurred. Seeing these parents finally united with their children brings forth a well spring of tears and praises. It's as though all their emotions have traveled on the wind over the distance making their way back to the network of "family" all across the US. That "family" is our Yahoo Group. Filled with people in every stage of the process all rooting on the same team. All in this together. Through the YG I have hoped along side the folks, prayed along side them, agonized during that wait along side them, and now via the wonders of the internet I am rejoicing along side them. I am eager to see their long awaited posts from HOME. Back home with their children. Beginning the rest of the journey as a family. For truly, much is made about the wait but REAL life begins when the families arrive home.

A few lines here and there hint at the idea that some of our friends have seen Jonas. Susan even mentioned that kiddos have been moved to the AWAA's transition home. I have to assume that included Jonas. Say a prayer for our son and the other kids. Such transitions can be overwhelming for them. This move could be potentially as traumatic for Jonas as the day he came into care for he has been at Kids Care Orphanage for half his life now. Pray for peace to rule the children's hearts during this difficult transitional time. They will hardly be settled at the TH before all their crazy American parents come rushing in scooping them up while trembling with tears, full of excited energy.


....With that said I've put up a new ticker. I am praying I won't have to change it and that we will pass court..... you know the drill.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fw: Test

 
 
This is a test. I am trying to figure out how to post via email for when we travel to Ethiopia. I am attaching a photo to see if it works.
 
25 more days 'till Dustin and I leave for Ethiopia to get our Jonas boy. Provided we actually pass courts that is!
 
*** Okay so it worked but how do I keep the adds from my email from showing up as well?? Anyone know?******
FREE Animations for your email - by IncrediMail! Click Here!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Check

For many months, on my list of things to do was watch Ben Stein's documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed but like happens from time to time I forgot about it and got busy living life. Tonight Dustin and I finally sat down and watched it. I HIGHLY recommend it. He made many intriguing arguments in the film. Fascinating. Really. But, please, don't take my word for it.

So that's one check mark off my to-do list that was a long time coming.

Friends Abroad.

Hi everyone! I've got a busy day planned for today but before the craziness hits I wanted to hop on and post. I am going to a party given for adoptive families hosted by an Ethiopian woman who attends Surafel's church. I am looking forward to it.

Five families from our agency are traveling to Ethiopia this week. Here's a list with links to their blogs if you want to follow along on their adventures.

Susan of the Schmidts wins an award for bringing MOST luggage. She and her hubby are brave to travel internationally with all those donations in tow. It means a lot more effort on their part. What loving hearts they have! God bless 'em

Amy of the Lusses wrote me an email a while back telling me she felt connected to me. I had to giggle because I felt the same about her. I appreciate this lady so much. She is going to take some photos of our Jonas for us. We are SO thankful! Her video of their son Azana made me cry. You can see it on her blog.

The Van Wettens and the Redferns are a part of the famous YG I am forever talking about. We are praying for them. There is one other family which doesn't have a blog who is travelling with this group.

I will be stalking these blogs eager to see our dear friends with their kids. SO exciting!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Letters Campaign - Air Travel by Numbers




  • Airfare to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Nov 23rd through Dec 6th - $1867.85 times 2.
  • Room rate Sheraton Reston Hotel Washington D.C. for one night- $209.00
  • Total number of Connecting flights- 5
  • Total hours estimated "plane time" (not including time between connections)- 42 HOURS! I am so afraid for Dustin!
  • Lap fare for Jonas' return home- $315.00
  • Number of flights available to Addis on Wed 26th (the day we had originally planned to leave)- ZERO
  • Number of days until we hear whether or not we've passed court and can actually travel on the dates we have purchased tickets for- best guess is two weeks ????
  • Fees associated with not passing courts thus requiring the purchase of new tickets- $150 plus any increase in ticket prices
  • Unknowns related to the rest of our travel plans- 1,000,000
  • The opportunity to experience the joy of welcoming our beloved Jonas home- Worth every ounce of blood, sweat, tears and coin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Introduction to World Orphans

Jenna left me a comment introducing herself and the organization she works for World Orphans.

Dustin and I spent time at the World Orphans site and really liked their vision for reaching orphans. Please go visit and take a look around. Don't forget to stop by Jenna's blog. It's really lovely.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Getting Excited



Dustin and I are leaning toward the longer stay in Ethiopia. We know there will be some challenges with being gone for 14 days. Not the least of which is leaving our girls at home for such a long period of time. We will miss them. The other thing which occurs to me is that we will have a lot to process after meeting all the orphans at Hope for the Hopeless and right after the one life changing experience we will head into another, the emotional experience of meeting our son for the first time and caring for him in our new role as his parents. WOW! That's two major life events packed into one trip. PLEASE PRAY FOR US. We will need supernatural strength to carry us through.

We are getting really excited about the idea of having the extra time to spend with the children in Hope for the Hopeless's care. We are excited that the extra time will afford us the opportunity to see both the intake center and the orphange and possibly even visit some of the foster homes in person. We are going to plan out Bible lessons to teach and songs to sing with the kids, games to play and hopefully I can squeeze in some craft type things for them too. I am SO THANKFUL to the Lord for the experience He blessed us with by teaching us to serve the children of Palm Valley Church in the preschool ministry. I know now why He led us to serve together in that capacity. I feel as if we've been prepared for such a time as this. My heart leaps for joy to try to imagine all God has in store for us as we venture across the globe just for the chance to love beyond ourselves in Christ's name.

There is a lot going on in our hearts and our heads as we prepare for this trip. I've already asked if you would please join with us in prayer. Here is a list of specific things we are praying about.


  • For Jonas (as always) while he waits for us to come for him. For his health spiritually, emotionally and physically
  • For the girls while we are away
  • For us to be able to focus on serving during the portion of the trip dedicated to Hope and not be consumed with longing for Jonas
  • That we would be filled with the Spirit of Boldness and that we would reach out in love to all God's people, that we would have servant's hearts and be filled with humility
  • That we would be given grace and strength in light of facing loss and suffering
  • That God would grant us favor among strangers and bless us with the ability to relate across cultural lines and language barriers
  • That God would be glorified and that He might open our eyes to see His glory.

PS- we have a hunch that our court date is the first week on November. If that's the case, and IF we pass successfully you can expect to see Jonas' precious face plastered all over this blog :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I've been tagged

Sweet Kristen one of the best Photographers I know tagged me. So here it goes guys. Seven things.

1) I have a tendency to make sighing noises when something is weighing heavily on my mind. I am completely unaware of it but it's a dead giveaway for hubby that something is up with me.

2) It's physically impossible for me to talk without making facial expressions. Crazy ones. Hence the tendency for me to have wildly crazy photos taken of me. Never the same face twice :)

3) I cannot eat salads from restaurants. I get extremely ill nearly instantaneously.

4) I have really stiff cartilage in my ears that makes it pretty painful for them to bend. Dustin thinks it's the weirdest thing ever.

5) I use my toes to pick up small items off the floor instead of bending over. Convenient, I think. Dustin says freaky. hahahaha

6) I am a rule follower by nature.

7) I am unable to read just a chapter of a book. I try my best to complete it in one sitting if at all possible.

I'm tagging:
My two new travel buddies:
Anna
Nikki

and good friends:
Brooke F
Julie
Kim
Stacey

Finally, with the highest esteem I want introduce you all to Sassy Granny. She rocked the women's retreat last summer and gave me so much to chew on after her exhortation at the women's retreat. I enjoy her blog so very much. I promise you'll enjoy it too!!

NKOTB Part Two

2 in the mornin'

I still heart Donnie
So much fun!!

The girls
Me and B!
getting down :))

The boys from beantown
After the show.