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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Grafted Tree Web Site

It's finally up. Thanks to the genius skills of Julie and all her amazing hard work. (We love you Julie!) We are pleased to announce the web site launch for Grafted Tree Ministries.

The web address is

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Jonas Liben

Our son's name will be Jonas Liben. I know that's a curve ball since it wasn't on the list of possibilities BUT there is a reason for this. I don't want to over share confidential info before we clear the courts so you'll have to wait to hear about it. He's nearly six months old. Enjoy a short video of us getting our first glimpse of our precious son. Can I just tell ya, he's an Ethiopian heartbreaker! I am such a freak in this so you'll have to pardon my OVER excitement. Our son is just so handsome it knocked my socks off! ;)

**** Note I am SO SAD that hubby cut off his own head in the video. (he assured me it would be fine) Unfortunately we couldn't reenact this special moment so his face could be in the screen.

Guess who got THE CALL!?

WE did. Houston we have a referral!

I am waiting for Dustin to get home to open the email including the photos of our son (I am told there are two) I will share more in a post to follow. Just had to get the word out!

Thanks you Jesus!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Dry Bones

Ezekiel 37:4- Then he said to me,
"Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the

Well my world still seems to be moving in slow motion. I've been calmer lately but that's not to say I've been enjoying the wait. I have a dear friend who's gone and injected a saying of hers into my head. I've often heard her talking about or praying about having a feeling of "dry bones." It's a Scriptural reference. She spoke about it especially during the wait leading up to her referral and then travel to get her daughter. My ears always perked up when she mentioned that because it wasn't a saying I have heard people say often. It was always a very visual sentiment as I could easily picture dry dead bones (she's such a visual speaker) So I listened despite the fact that I couldn't really relate at the time, though, NOW I am picking up what she was putting down.

There's something in the wait that has dried me up. My patience is all but sucked dry. My energy has wained. I am fighting weariness and fatigue. Honestly, it's hard to care anymore. That's not to say that I don't. I just am trying to convey that caring means investing emotionally in a draining situation. Even though we know the end is coming soon I feel like a marathon runner who's run out of steam in the final mile of the race. I don't know how I am going to push through. I really need God for this one.

Dustin and I watched a webcast of a sermon tonight. During that time Dustin and I both felt convicted about the time of preparation we are in. We felt encouraged to continue on in faith and assurance and to WORK HARD to finish whatever we have been called to do during this time. We both felt that we are still in a time of preparation and that it's vital not to lose sight of that fact. If things were finished we would be done already. That's obviously not the case so evidently there's more.

In many ways I feel I am at my weakest. (At least let's hope so. I don't want to sink any lower!!) I can sense that the battle hinges around belief and obedience. Arrow after arrow sails through the air hoping to find it's mark against my faith and reliance upon Jesus. Here's the deal though, I am about at the end of my rope. My arms are tired and that shield of faith is starting to feel mighty heavy. I am crying out for help and a lifting of my shield from a strength not of myself but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The enemy loves to try to get me to stop believing and trusting knowing full well that disobedience will always follow. Unfortunately I've had to repent because my heart has been unbelieving lately and my actions have followed.

Then, I consider that the real battle probably hasn't begun yet. After this comes the nuts and bolts life of being an adoptive parent with all it's challenges. You know the ones, like those days when you wake up TIRED and cranky and the kids immediately start yelling and fighting and barking out demands (of course I am not speaking of my darling angels but other people's kids ;)) and you just don't feel like being the go-to girl that day. The challenges like working to gain our little ones trust, and helping him deal with all the life change and loss he's lived through. What will I do then? Hopefully, I will be used to sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him. Hopefully I will have done the prep work He's calling me to do right now and will be ready for the next challenge ahead. Thankfully, His mercies are new every morning and I can draw from the well of His Spirit.

Speaking of. That's my plan of action right now. To dip my cup in the deep living water. To buy food without cost and find nourishment for my soul to live another day on the battle field.

Isaiah 55:1&2
1 "Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who
have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and
without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on
what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your
soul will delight in the richest of fare.

A Great Time

We had a wonderful time at the resort. Dustin worked only half the day and got home early so we could check in and maximize our time by the pool before dinner. When we arrived there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers waiting for me. The room was large and had a great view of the second pool.

We had lunch at the main pool and then soaked in the water for a few hours. It was so relaxing.

We headed back to get cleaned up for dinner. A bottle of champagne awaited our arrival. We sipped and readied ourselves. Dinner was a Red's Steakhouse. It was our second time dinning there and to be honest the food really isn't that great. We both had been underwhelmed during our first experience and the second time confirmed it. Too pricey and not enough yum for the dollar. We won't be returning there again. We had a leisurely dinner and then headed back. We sat on the balcony and chatted for along time enjoying the quiet evening together (in the 100 degree heat)

It was just one night away but it felt like a vacation and now our batteries are recharged. We had a great time.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Where You'll Find Me

Our anniversary snuck up on us last week. We didn't have time to properly plan so we decided to push it back and celebrate this weekend. It really pays to have an August anniversary in Phx. All the resorts offer great specials in the summer. Consequently, we can usually celebrate the occasion is style. This year we will be poolside at our favorite resort celebrating 9 years of bliss ;)

We love the Wigwam Resort. It's great AND we can save fuel by not driving out to Scottsdale where most of the other resorts are. This one is mere blocks from our front door. I could even walk there if I felt like it but this is Phx and it's still HOT so I will hop in the car for 1 minute and save myself the trouble of getting sweaty.

I am looking forward to relaxing and spending some quality time with my man.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Biometrics and other news

We followed up with USCIS today for our scheduled re-fingerprinting. (You can read here about why this was necessary.)

We were in and out in an hour (a remarkable improvement from last time.) This should be the only paperwork we'll need to update. All else is good to go.

I've been feeling remarkably calm the last few days. I don't have the nervous feeling every time the phone rings. I did wake up this morning feeling like we are REALLY close to getting The Call but it wasn't a debilitating feeling and I was able to move through the day without being consumed by it. In the afternoon I checked our YG to find that three families had received calls. Two of them received referrals for boy/girl sibling sets and the other family received a referral for a girl. So, that's 5 kids all together. 5 kids with new families to belong to. Praise God!

Monday, August 18, 2008


We had our usual late lunch date after tear down with our friends this Sunday. The choice was Chinese. My friend asked me, "Doesn't watching the Olympics make you hungry for Chinese food? With all the Chinese music in the background it makes me crave Chinese food."

I laughed at her. "Actually, the thing that runs through my mind constantly is how horrible it makes me feel to plop my behind on the couch for a week and watch all these people doing amazing feats while I just sit there." It makes me feel really guilty. Like I need to get up and do something physical. Like sit ups. Or a few push-up maybe. I don't know. Just something.

So that's it. I am making a change. I am going to be a little secretive about it for now but be warned. Dustin and I are cooking up something. We're doing it together. You know what that means?! Either we'll be iron sharpening iron or we'll drive each other completely and certifiably nuts-o. Probably a little of both. No matter. It needed to be done.

I wonder how many other countless folks around the world have been inspired by the Olympic Games to get off their duffs and go do?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gold Medal

Ethiopia’s Long-Distance Legacy Is Written in the Olympic Medal Standings

BEIJING — With her trademark blistering kick, Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia ran the second-fastest women’s 10,000 meters ever on Friday night to take the gold medal in the opening track race of the Beijing Games.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Anniversary Present

It is 2:08 am. I slipped out of bed to come write. I sleep every night next to the biggest blessing of my life, aside from my salvation through Jesus Christ. My husband is the blessing through which most of my other earthly blessings flow. Without him I would not be the woman or mother I am today. He's loved me better than any other human in my life. He has loved me through it all. He's never been perfect but he's always been just what I needed and just what the Doctor ordered. To put it bluntly Dustin is the PRIMARY instrument Christ has used in my life to lavishly display His love for me. The sun will rise today on the 9th year of my marriage to an amazing man. I have never been more thankful than I am in this moment.

I don't know when, exactly, but I know that very soon my man and I will embark on another adventure together having already come so far. I cannot believe where God has taken us. Looking back, I have seen God's provision and I am filled with hope for our future together. We have come too far with Jesus to ever go back. God has done too much in our lives for us to stop following Him now, and by His grace we will continue on to finish the race He has for us.

I don't write all this to try to act as if we never falter in our faith. I certainly do. Trust me I have days where all of a sudden a feeling will wash over me that I have gotten myself in so unbelievably far over my head that I stop dead in my tracks for a moment. Then, I swallow hard and press on. I could pee my pants looking over my track record of faithfulness or my ability to get things right. It aint pretty! I've only recently come to realize it's SO NOT about me/us anymore. Thank God!

Speaking of my track record. It's funny how over time our memories fade. Even the things we swore we'd never lose seem to drift away with time. God has gifted me in that I have kept a journal fairly regularly since I was in elementary school. My journals are prayer journals. I don't usually record the daily routine in there as mush as I lay down my concerns and my deepest struggles. I've always felt as if they would best be described as the underbelly of my emotional/spiritual state, mainly because I tend to write in them more when I am sad or steaming ticked off than when things are lovely and all is running smoothly. If ever I find a need for a memory refresher my prayers and words linger there, stark reminders of the times during which the entries were written.

As I was heading to bed tonight I had more than a few things on my mind. The two topics which occupied the majority of my thoughts were our son and our anniversary. I dug out all of my old journals ranging from 1997- present and began by reading through the painful years during which I endured much bondage and the weight of uncontrolled sin in my life. Next, I read every entry on or around our anniversary date followed by every entry related to the birth of our children in '01, '02, and '04 and the emotions surrounding them. Finally, I read through the miscarriages in Dec '06 and Apr '07. I didn't need to read on through to the adoption because I am living out those emotions and prayers daily.

It's funny how much my journals differed from what I had expected to read. While I know that my journals are completely incomplete they have also captured more than I could have ever imagined they would. During the worst times of my life I had expected to read page upon page of lamentation only to find seeds of praises and hope written instead. In the lowest valleys of my life I never could have imagined what God would have in store for me. What I saw was God gently leading me up to and then through surrender. All kinds of surrender spanning so many areas of my life. As I read I saw that the more I surrendered, regardless of how raw that surrender was, the more God used it in my life to glorify Himself.... DESPITE my failures, shortcomings, weaknesses and sins. I was able to identify all the many times I learned (very SLOWLY at times, even STUBBORNLY), by the sheer grace of God, to submit.

The journals revealed what I've always known to be true. I am a REALLY- I mean REALLY- messed up person. I am still that person in the flesh BUT I observed, tonight, something truly amazing. As I read through those pages filled with tears of sorrow, remorse and repentance I saw not only the broken Jen, I was able to see something else or rather Someone else as well.

I saw Jesus. I saw Him, in all of His mercy and grace leading me and my husband.

Every low point in my life has been, ONLY by the grace of God, redeemed. It may not look as polished as I would like it to. I may not have come out smelling like roses. Some might still look at me and laugh thinking I have declared victory a bit too early. Truly, anyone who really knows me KNOWS I am still OH SO VERY imperfect and full of sin, but, I know there's a difference in me. Jesus knows too. He's the difference. Every time I have chosen Him instead of the "other" He has NEVER failed to redeem me. I am astounded at how far He's brought me. In many ways I am still that broken person but in so many more ways I am NOT. Christ is in me and He has made all the difference in my marriage, in my life!

King Jesus, I love you. What more can I say? You are my Redeemer and the Love of my life. You have given me EVERYTHING. You have been so ridiculously lavish with Your gifts I can't even express my thankfulness. ALL I want to do is bring a smile to Your face. I know I can do all things through You. I have Hope. My hope is in You!

Thank you for my beloved husband who is so precious to me. I LOVE that man. Thank you for our children who bring so much joy to our lives. Thank you for never failing our family and for richly blessing us despite ourselves! Mature us into faithful servants filled with Your Spirit and love. Not for our glory but for Your names' sake.

May no one reading this EVER think I've got it all together. All I have is You.* You are MORE THAN ENOUGH!


*If you've happened upon this post and you don't know how it is that a person can "have" Jesus you can click the button on my side bar that says "Ready" and read all about salvation through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Countries to Cheer For

I am rooting for the runner from Ethiopia to medal this Friday in the Olympics. The following is an article I found on the Ethioblog I enjoy following.

Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba aiming for first Gold Medal in Olympics
Ethiopia's long distance runner Tirunesh Dibaba has yet to win Olympic gold medal and this comping Friday, she is heavily favored to win the gold medal in the women's 10,000 meters in Beijing. Just 23 years old, Tirunesh Dibaba has already won four gold medals in world championships and five gold medals in World Cross Country Championships. And she has the world record in women's 5000 meters, which she broke the record by more than five seconds with a time of 14 minutes, 11.15 seconds last June.
The following is a summary written By Adam Buckley Cohen of Runner's World magazine.
How to describe Ethiopia? A country roughly twice the size of Texas with three times as many people. A complex blend of massive highlands and dissected plateaus divided by the Great Rift Valley. One of the oldest inhabited areas in the world, perhaps the seat of all human migration. Or, if you're a track fan, the alpha and omega of distance running. At the Athens Olympics, in the 5000 and 10,000 meters, Ethiopian men and women took home seven of 12 medals, improving on the six golds they won four years earlier in Sydney. So how does a country that constantly battles droughts and famines of biblical proportions beat out the combined total of every other country in the world?
Tirunesh Dibaba, a wisp of a 23-year-old from the hamlet of Bekoji, doesn't have an easy answer. All she knows is what works for her. Standing five-foot-one and weighing just south of 100 pounds, the doe-eyed Dibaba has used a fearless racing style crowned by a blistering kick to win four world championships on the track, four more in cross-country, the world record in the 5000, and an Olympic bronze.
Although her third-place performance in Athens made her, at 19, the youngest Ethiopian ever to medal at the Olympics, Dibaba was hardly ecstatic about the performance. "I would have liked to win gold. My aim is always gold." In Beijing, she will be favored to win the 10,000.
On the men's side, Dibaba's countryman Kenenisa Bekele is perhaps an even stronger favorite. He's the defending champion, the world record holder at the distance (and at the 5000), and the successor to his "teacher and idol," the great Haile Gebrselassie. In Beijing, the now-35-year-old Gebrselassie may be back for one final try at the 10,000 (if he chooses not to run the marathon), setting up a classic race with his protege.
Whoever is on the track—Bekele, Geb, Dibaba—you can be sure millions of Ethiopians will be watching. Dibaba, speaking for her teammates, says, "I race for my country. I do not want to disappoint my country."
Ed's Note:The Women's 10,000 Meters Final will be held on Friday August 15, 2008 at 22:45 Beijing Time (10:45 AM ET ; 14:45 GMT)NBC will broadcast the event at 10:45 PM ET Friday night (August 15, 2008)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Best Guesses

We all made guesses as to which day of the week THE phone call will come. The winner gets dessert of their choice when the call happens. I am really pulling for my day to win because I plan to get me some Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.

So here are our guesses:

Monday: Aurora and Rienne
Thursday: Dustin and Allyse (Dustin actually thinks we'll get the call this Thurs which is our anniversary)
Friday: Jen

May the best dessert win!

Monday, August 11, 2008

No News is The News

In my best 'woe is me' tone I report (humph) that a phone call will not be happening today.

Perhaps tomorrow? One never runs out of reasons to hope.

I only jumped out of my skin once today when the phone rang. That's pretty good. The other times I was able to rationalize myself into behaving calmly. Other than that the kids and I were engrossed in school all day. I welcome the distraction. Any distraction will do these days. This past weekend I was consumed by the Olympics and loved every second of it. It made the time fly by quickly.

This week Dustin and I celebrate our 9th wedding anniversary and so I have many welcome distractions to look forward to. I intend to give myself over to them fully. I'll keep you posted on how successful I turn out to be at it.

PS- I was so distracted that our 6 month DTE ( Dossier to Ethiopia) anniversary came and went without any mention. So here it is guys. SIX months! The mid point of our referral wait timeline.... Whoo hoo*

* okay, I admit it. That "whoo hoo" was written with just a hint of sarcasm and in a tone which hints at my being underwhelmed, but the rest was genuinely positive.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Red Letters Campaign- Donations

As we begin to think about the reality of travel I have become overwhelmed at the thought of all that needs to happen between now and then. The biggest thing at the top of my to do list is orphanage donations. I thought I would hop on here and let you all know that Dustin and I would be more than happy to collect donations from anyone who has a desire to give. We plan to pack VERY lightly so that we can maximize our space for donations.

I have felt a little pressure because I know space is limited and we are so burdened for for Hope for the Hopeless (H4H) facilities. Mainly because we know there is little support for them right now. I feel conflicted about how much we ought to give to the AWAA Transition Home compared to the H4H homes. I know many other families with our agency will cover the needs of the Transition Home (TH) but I don't want to appear as though we don't appreciate the staff of our TH and all they have done for us.

Of course we also plan to bring cash and either make purchases there or hand funds over to the H4H (Hope for the Hopeless) folks for food. They are not getting any meat in their diet these days and are subsisting on 2 small meals a day. Some children have been fainting in school lately so I know money would be most appreciated.

We do, however, recognize that people without a personal relationship with Surefel and his staff may not feel as comfortable giving cash so we are providing a list of other items for those of you who have asked about donating. We will be collecting formula with DHA for the TH and medical supplies for the H4H street child intake center. Other items which would be greatly appreciated are:

Clothing for older children (ages 4 and up)
Art/craft supplies
games/small toys of all kinds (jump ropes, deflated soccer balls, etc)
Children's music CD's
Books for all ages

You can email me at if you have any questions.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

Another precious family with our agency received a referral for siblings today. That means they are OFF of the WFR list (that's Waiting For Referral) and on to the WCD list (Waiting for Court Date) We are celebrating with them! So far that's two referrals for the month of August. Keep 'em coming Lord!

Please be in prayer for four families who are anxiously awaiting news on Friday to see whether or not they have cleared the courts. If the don't make it on Friday they will have to wait out the closure. I know it's extremely difficult for them right now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Something to Read

We have no news about our referral but we are celebrating with our friends the Juvinalls who received a referral for their 2 month old daughter today. YEAH!!!!

With nothing to read about over here I suggest you go read this. It's so interesting!