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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Court in two days...

*photo by jontintinjordan
...trying not to think about it THAT much. Freaking out inside a little.

I've been doing SO WELL playing it cool. Until now. All of a sudden that restlessness I grew so familiar with while waiting for Jonas has overtaken me once again. The inescapable feeling of desperation to bring A* home has overwhelmed me today.

I think it has something to do with visiting with a friend of mine today and talking about A*s health issues. It's making me sick to be so far away, so helpless to help him.

If we pass May 27th I have pictures and video to show you. Seriously, I can't wait for you to see him!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Destiny Food Direct

I just learned about this organization:

It looks really cool.

I'm going to try an order. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Jolly Good Decals

Kelly from My Jolly Family has all kinds of fun decals. Head over and take a look.

*It's my goal to highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting every Friday. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details. Jen@the

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Our Little Guy

We received an update on A*. We knew he was small. Now we know just exactly how small he is.

A* weighs a feathery light 28 pounds. He stands in at 31.9 inches tall. At approximately 4 years of age A* is close in size to his brother Jonas at 26 months of age.

It's hard on a momma's heart to see words like wasting and stunted attached to her child. I really want my son home so we can work on getting him growing nice and strong.

Many children experience a quick turn around with proper medical treatment, nutrition, and love and affection from parents. It's termed the Lazarus Effect because of the dramatic improvement. Children who were on the brink begin to flourish.

It's our prayer A* will experience rapid growth upon coming home, too.

May 27th. That's our day in court. Please pray with us we pass and that the US embassy conducts a speedy investigation, issuing us an ambassy appointment quickly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Glass Tile Pendants

It's hard to say no to cool jewelry, especially when it helps to bring an orphan home. Michelle is offering these glass tile pendant beauties over at her fundraising blog. Don't forget to drop by her Life a Bit Sweeter blog to say hello!

*It's my goal to highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting every Friday. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details. Jen@the

Friday, May 7, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: White Family

The White family has a store set up at Cafe Press where you can find all sorts of great items. Head on over and check out their STORE.

I really like the journal. What a great place to write prayers for special kiddos in need of a home.

*It's my goal to highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting every Friday. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details. Jen@the

Monday, May 3, 2010

MAY 27th!

That's the day our case will go before a judge in Ethiopia. Please join us in praying for a favorable outcome the first try.

Jonas has been asking lately about A*. He keeps saying, "A* coming home?" I keep reassuring him, "Soon, baby. Brother will be here soon." He even points to A*'s bed and says his name over and over again. I can't wait for the brothers to meet each other!

Heck, I can't wait for all of us to meet.

Saturday, May 1, 2010



Some AWAA friends of ours had their home destroyed by a tornado WHILE THEY WERE IN IT. You can read about the ordeal right here.

They are in need right now. They have insurance, but not great insurance. They have a lot to clean up and the insurance won't cover the debris removal. Their home will be rebuilt but the contents still need to be replaced.

If you can give please DO!

Go to Paypal and send any amount to


Cayolyn Twietmeyer and Project Hopeful do a LOT to help others. This time she and her family need a little assistance of their own.

The Twietmeyers brought home Selah in summer 2008 and are finally able to bring her brother and sister home. They are traveling THIS FRIDAY May 7!! There have been many unexpected last minute travel expenses for these long awaited and beloved children. Some friends bought an Ipod Touch to raffle off. They need around $4000. Please consider a donation in any amount to the Twietmeyer adoption fund for the sole purpose of bringing home Andarge and Eyerusalem. Go to Cayolyns blog to donate!

Please help spread the word by reposting on your blog and Facebook.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Food and Nearness

I've gotten a diagnosis. There may be more coming, but for now Oral Allergy Syndrome , or OAS, accounts for some of my food allergies. I also tested positive for other allergies to a variety of foods other than the common OAS foods.

I am being referred to a GI specialist to see about intestinal allergies. I may have to have a colonoscopy. I'm not super thrilled about that. I've never been under anesthesia. My nerves twitch a little at the idea.

Medical food was also mentioned. I'm okay with that, actually. I figure at least I'll be getting more nutrition that way. I know I must be desperate if drinking my meals through a straw no longer seems like a bad option.

I can honestly say I take no delight in food anymore.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for every bite I get! Every time I am sick with hunger and I am able to satisfy that need I remember those who will never be able to; those who will die that way. It is truly humbling.

So, yes, food is a blessing.

But, delightful? Not anymore. Not after what it's been doing to me since last August.

Needless to say, not being able to eat raw fruits and vegetables, and being allergic to many of them alltogether, throws my diet a off balance. There are many days I am unable to take in enough calories. The pounds have been melting off.

It's been difficult, to say the least, but I'm thankful I'm beginning to gain some answers. My immunologist also told me that internal allergies could be the root cause for my other crazy symptoms, like sudden drops in blood pressure, racing pulse, etc.

I hope the GI specialist will be able to inform me whether or not I truly have these mysterious internal allergies I know so little about at this point. I'm not excited at the prospect of having more allergies but having more answers is always nice.

Healing would be better.

I resolve to trust in the Lord and follow Him either way.

I still don't understand all that God is doing with me, but that's okay. I love Him. I trust Him. And, when my trust weakens I know I can rely on Him to strengthen my faith and carry me through.

Earlier today I was struggling with my health and my emotions. I was praying and drifting in and out of sleep when I suddenly gained a burst of energy. I came to my computer to discover someone had posted a link to a blog. I followed the link, read THIS story, and was beyond encouraged; I was filled with joy, awe, and praises for the King!

I wasn't encouraged because I think, somehow, God's answer to my question about healing is "yes" because it was yes for Chrissie, but because He allowed us to see His glory in such a seemingly dark place, am impossible situation.

What an amazing testimony Chrissie and her family have been given. To God alone be the glory.

And that is what this is about- God's glory. No matter what form it takes, this life, for me, is ALL about His glory. I KNOW I will get to see the fullness of His glory some day. I see it in part already.

That is enough for today.

I am greatly blessed by the presence of Jesus in my life. I know He is NEAR me even in my affliction.

...... It is good to be NEAR God.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big Things Coming

Hi friends,

I've been a major slacker here at my beBOLD blog. There are a few reasons for that. At the top of that list is a new collective effort I'm a part of. Precious and Positive is a new blog which consists of several authors writing about how good life can be with children who are HIV positive. If you haven't gone over to check out the blog go there NOW. No seriously, please say hello to us over there. And, hey, why not give us a shout out on your own blog. I promise you we'll be SUPER appreciative.

I wanted to let my most dedicated readers know a couple of things. First, I am going to get my own bloggy upgrade the end of May. Yes, I'm whisking a good friend of mine away for a night at a resort here in town, where we'll be busy doing some poolside relaxation techniques among other things. "Other things" being Julie is going to revamp my whole blog for me- awesome friend that she is.

Isn't that exciting? Well, it is for me anyway.

I'm doing the revamp for a couple of reasons.

When I began blogging it was, like, me and 2 other readers. It was personal even though it was public. I had no real purpose or reason for writing a blog, other than it was a natural extension of all the writing I did in my personal life.

Now, things are different. I sense God calling me to be more purposeful with my writing, and I sense that it I'm to be using it to bless others. In that vein I have been working on some devotionals for adoptive parents. Beginning in May I will be offering those weekly at my spiffy new blog site.

I will continue to write personal posts as the Lord directs and, of course, I will keep everyone updated on the adoption front.

I have also written a children's book which is now being sketched by an illustrator. It has a message I believe in and it's one that the Lord literally gifted to me nearly over night. The story aims to help give adopted children a positive way to relate their own adoption stories to peers. I have lots more to tell you related to the book in the future, but for now I'd love for my faithful blog friends to keep the book and my illustrator friend, Amy, in your prayers.

So that's the latest here. I wish I had a court date to give you but we're still waiting for news. Every day it's growing harder and harder to be patient. I have taken to staring at A*'s gorgeous smile and huge almond eyes more and more these days. I HATE it for him that things have taken so long. I want him home yesterday!

Friday, April 23, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Spiffy Shirts!

Chrissy over at Injera and Chocolate Gravy has the cutest tee shirts for sale. Go take a peek. You'll look GREAT in one, I promise.

*Every week I highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details. Jen@the

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm Thinking....

I'm reminded of this guy today:

I've spent more time listening to Francis Chan from Cornerstone Church. I'm back round to a teaching I listened to last year. Francis's teaching called Who's The Cult (4/19/09) rocks my world every time. Lots to chew on with this one; lots of actions to be made in response. Gotta get real and ask myself again how I'm doing with the "one anothers".

Friday, April 16, 2010

Precious and Positive

Hey friends! I'm joining with a team of other families who have adopted HIV+ kiddos to blog about life with our kids who are Precious and Positive. Pleace check it out. Be sure to check back frequently for more helpful content about life as a positive family and all kinds of resources.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Children's Future Ethiopia & Into The Streets of Ethiopia

I don't think there is a family who's traveled to Addis Ababa who hasn't come back impressed after meeting this man.

Jonas and Uncle Robel Dec '08

Robel is an employee of AWAA but also the founder of Children's Future Ethiopia. Into The Streets of Ethiopia is an organization seeking to help partner with Robel and Children's Future Ethiopia to fund projects that aid street children.

Our family is appreciative of Robel and his work. If you'd like to give to support Children's Future Ethiopia you can follow the link: Into The Streets of Ethiopia

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Children From Hard Places -

I wanted to draw people's attention to a series on parenting children from "hard places" from Family Life Today Radio.

The program guest is Dr. Karyn Purvis- a renowned author in the field of attachment. Listening is worth your time!

Children From Hard Places -

If you are a perspective adoptive parent DON'T MISS THIS SERIES!

Waiting for Court

I got word today that we should hear some news about our scheduled court date in 2-5 weeks.

Yes, that will feel like an eternity but I'm prayerful that the Lord will have mercy and make this the ONE thing in this process that happen on the short end of the timeline, for A*'s sake.

The court date could be anywhere from 4-8 weeks from our DTE date. By the way, Our DTE date is our "dossier to Ethiopia" date. We are DTE Apr 7th.

I can't wait to write and tell everyone we have a court date on the books! Plus we've got to pass soon. You guys NEED to see A*'s cuteness!!!!!! It's a must.

Friday, April 9, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Artsy Prints You'll Flip For

This Friday you're in for a treat. These gorgeous 8x10 prints are designed by Candace. As with all our FUNdriaser Friday features, proceeds will help her family bring their child home from Ethiopia.

*Every week I highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Driving With Jesus

Driving the speed limit may not be a big deal for you, but for me it's MAJOR. I've had issues in the past with speeding. I'm not crazy wreckless but I would say I have a problem obeying the limit. I NEVER speed in residential areas but if you were to catch me on open road (where I live there are quite a few near farmlands) or a freeway, odds would be that I'd be travelling at least 10 MPH over the speed limit.

For years I had absolutely no conviction about this speeding. I was totally fine with it. I avoided putting a church sticker on my vehicle like the plague so as to not cast a shadow on the church's reputation and went on my merry, obstinate way.

Then, one night a few years ago, the Lord tested me in this.

I was driving home from a women's Bible study and was on the last major street before turning into our neighborhood. The street was under construction and the cones were up with those annoying 25 MPH roadsigns in place of the usual 45 MPH ones.

I had every intention of going much faster than the posted limit, mainly because the road was finished being paved and was only waiting to have the stripes painted on. There were no workers out and no cars oncoming. All was clear. I owned the place, baby.

I was just starting to get up to my comfort speed when the Holy Spirit impressed it upon my heart that I needed to slow down.

I took my foot off the gas and waited for the car to slow. Each notch the speedometer fell exacerbated the feeling that I could get out of the car and crawl faster. For some reason I really felt myself rebelling against going that 25 MPH. Surely 30 was close enough?

You have to know the kind of person I am. I'm a total rule follower by nature. I'm a pretty compliant person. I generally have a ton respect for authority. I am also a person who has a strong moral compass. I clearly understand right from wrong. In fact, I'm often times a person who the Lord will call upon to gently speak truth to others who might have a hard time seeing the difference between right and wrong in various circumstances.

So, I knew at that point that what I was doing in speeding was sin. Holy Spirit was asking me to do something and I was refusing to do it. S-I-N. Period.

The hang up for me now was that cars had come up, seemingly out of nowhere, behind me. They were crowing in together, anxious to have me move faster. I was acutely aware that my obedience would be slowing others down, that they would be inconvenienced by it, that they might even dislike me because of it. (Feel free to analyze away about the deeper significance of those issues)

In response to the peer pressure I sorta half "obeyed" by keeping the pace at 30 MPH. Of course there's no way to be halfway obedient. It's all or nothing.

I failed the test.

As crumby as I felt about failing the test, soon I forgot about it completely. Until, yesterday.

I was driving to meet my sister, my mom, and a beloved friend I've known since I was in high school for the afternoon. I decided to use the 40 minute drive to spend some time worshipping Jesus. I turned up the praise music and began singing my heart out.

I hadn't travelled far down the freeway when I felt the Lord impressing it upon my heart to drive the speed limit. I immediately slowed down. It took work to maintain the speed limit because I'm naturally more comfortable driving faster (It's weird, I know) and things don't "feel right" to me when I go the speed limit. It literally feels to me like I'm inching along.

But, I managed to do well. I even remained at the speed limit when the freeway dropped down to 45 MPH in one section.

That was easy to do because the whole time no one had been driving behind me. For some reason, there had been no traffic behind me the whole way to this point and the traffic in front of my this day had all been traveling the speed limit too. Good thing, because I would have been tempted to keep pace with them had they gone faster.

Thirty five minutes into my drive and I'm almost to my destination. The sky is blue, huge fluffy clouds look like freshly bleached cotton balls, the entire desert is in bloom and the mountains are more colorful than I've seen in years. I'm thanking God and doing the speed limit.

Life doesn't get much better than that.

Until, I saw them.

Traffic cones. And a dreaded 30 MPH signs looming ahead. (Who would makes people drive 30 MPH on a WIDE open freeway? It's torture, I tell you!)

A quick check in the rear view mirror revealed the closest car many miles back from my rear. I took my foot off the gas. It didn't take long for my beastly SUV to make the adjustment. I was just about 5-7 MPH withing the target when I decided to glance in the rear view mirror once again.

Dang if that blue car hadn't caught up with me already. It was just about to approach my tailgating discomfort zone.

If you could have understood what was going on in my mind I'm fairly confident you would have been laughing at me. Picture me gritting my teeth and praying with all my heart, "I can do this! I WILL obey you Jesus.... I'm not going to look in my rear view mirror again. I'm just going to look at the road and the speedometer."

Oh, in that moment a battle was raging! I'm thankful temptation isn't the same as sin. Lord knows I was so tempted to slam my foot on that gas pedal and tear out of there. But then, despite my best efforts, I checked the rear view mirror once more.

What did I see? That blue car had backed off at least 50 feet.

And guess what else? There was a line of about 10 cars pressing hard behind that blue car, willing it to move faster.

Do you know I broke down in tears? I couldn't see them with my eyes, but I'm pretty sure angels were holding that blue car back for me. I was so humbled and full of praises. God knew how much I was struggling and made a way for me to be able to obey.

Two things I'm taking away from this seemingly mundane drive to my lunch date.

1) God is always the impetus for our obedience. We were dead in our sins until He made us alive in Christ. It's His mercy that enables us to obey Him in the first place. If I need help I can call on His grace and mercy anytime, because He's rooting for me. He wants me to obey as much as I want to obey, and will make a way for me. 1 Cor 10:13

2) This event made me consider deeply leaders in the Church. I'm thankful for leaders of our faith who are willing to step out and hold back the waves of opposition for those of us who are weaker and need the help. I think all of us will need the help of another at one time or another in many different ways. I pray that by Jesus name and the Power of the Holy Spirit I can one day be used of God to be that kind of help for another. For now, I'm just thankful someone else stood their ground against the pressure of the masses.

So now that I've shared my story I wonder how many of you out there might have a similar experience? Either struggling with temptation and finding the Lord provided you with a way out, or doing a seemingly mundane task only to find God was waiting there to teach you a major spiritual lesson.... Please share! I'd love to hear.

In closing I'm going to leave you with the most chees-tastic song ever. When my sister and I were kids there were many a Sunday we were treated to our music minister's wife singing an ear piercing falsetto rendition of this song. (The woman used vibrato like an assault weapon, I tell you!)

I was in danger of forgetting about it completely when it came to mind during the writing of this post. Today, I find a new affection for this little gem. (Especially in an octave that doesn't make my ears bleed)

Enjoy! ;-)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

It's There!

Our dossier has been picked up in Addis Ababa by the lovely Furtuna. She's the transition home nurse. Dustin and I got to know her last time we were in Ethiopia. I can't wait to see her again!

Please pray with us for a speedy court date so we can get our boy home!

In other news, my really special friend is in Addis Ababa right now. She's living there while she waits for her case to clear court. She's adopting w/ another agency and is mom to 2 ADORABLE little boys!!! I can't wait to meet them myself.
Our families should be meeting up for a little party in Addis soon, here. In the meanwhile, my friend wants to go visit our little A*. I can't wait to have her give me the full report on how he's doing. It is lovely that's she also happens to be a R.N. Yes, she's a very handy friend to have around!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's Tuesday and I've Got Nothin'

Yes, the title of today's post says it all. I'm dry for today. There is nothing much happening that's post worthy. I've got nothing.

Well, that may not be entirely accurate. Jonas did just dump an entire bowl of dry cereal all over my floor.

That's something.

We're waiting for news of a court date.

That's something.

We had a wonderful Easter celebration.

That's something, too.

Tonight is my first Girl Scout meeting as troop co-leader of a brand new troop. (Seriously, what have I gotten myself into?)

Again, I believe that qualifies as something.

Not that any of this is all that exciting to read about. However, I am working on some important articles and revamping some posts that I think you'll want to check out. Those should be up soon, so be sure to check back later.

Friday, April 2, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Ukraine Decals

The same genius of design who made our Ethiopia decals has made some for Vanya's family to help them bring him home.

Today's Friday FUNdraiser is the Ukraine Decal.

Grab This Button

*Every week I highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Last You'll Ever Hear...

... about our dossier is this:

We're DTE today. That's how AWAA abbreviates "Dossier to Ethiopia". What that means to us is that our dossier was cleared by the US State Department and is on it's way via a FedEx plane to Addis Ababa. It should arrive there within two weeks. At which time an AWAA staffer will pick it up and take it to be translated. Once translated a court date will be requested.

I received an email today from our Family Coordinator telling us that May 9th the new Ethiopian Court rule requiring families to be present for their court hearing will go into effect.

We'll see how things will play out for us.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Victory for the Pocketbooks

A victory has been won (at least for one year anyway) on the front of the financing adoptions war.

Everyone knows that, unfortunately, adoption costs a lot of money. Adoptive Parents often battle with their budgets to make way for their beloved children.

Our government offers an Adoption Tax Credit as an incentive for families to adopt. That tax credit was in danger of disappearing.

Now, President Obama has extended the Adoption Tax Credit for another year. To which we cheer Hooray!

You can read about how the adoption tax credits have been extended for one year HERE

Monday, March 29, 2010

On the Dotted Line

A long time ago, Dustin and I told the Lord that if there was no one to be found in Ethiopia to parent A* then a couple, half a world away, would be more than willing; they'd be HONORED!

Dustin and I began this process over eight months ago and WE WILL NEVER STOP. God has made our foreheads like stone in this matter.

After MANY delays in obtaining the necessary paperwork, it is our pleasure to announce that Dustin and I officially cast our lots with A*. While our hearts had already been surrendered to him, we were finally able to sign on the dotted line. YES, YES, YES! We WILL be his parents.

Referral officially accepted!

Because I know you're probably wondering, the time line looks as follows:

  • 1-2 weeks for dossier to be sent to Ethiopia.

  • 4-8 weeks until court

  • After a successful court date (it could take a few attempts) a US immigration investigation will begin which could take anywhere from 2-3 months to complete.

  • All this does not take into consideration any delays we might encounter for A*'s visa waiver.

Beside The Tracks. Not On Them.

When I was little our family lived near train tracks for a while. I have fond memories of those trains and have written about them before.

Recently, while I was drifting off to sleep I began to imagine standing in the middle of train tracks, just as I had done as a little girl.

After a time a large train rounded a corner and was visibly charging down the railway towards me. The name of the engine was Desire No. 6 and it was pulling boxcars loaded with my Sin.

The train was enormous and the force of it barreling down the tracks made the ground quiver. Each of its clanks against the track sent shocks running up my legs.

It seemed impossible to me that something so massive and heavy laden could travel at such speeds, for each boxcar was engorged by its dreadful contents.

I watched mesmerized as the train swiftly drew closer; my certain death approaching. Destruction made haste by leaps and bounds.

If there had been a moment when I could have escaped the oncoming danger it was past. Suddenly terror was upon me. I was frozen in place with no hope of escape.

Just like in cartoons, the train was personified; howling and sputtering insults and curses. It appeared vicious and furious; lurching forward like a wave ready to wash over me and leave no traces of life behind.

The very next image in my mind was that of a platform at a train station. I didn't see Him do it, but I knew deep in my heart that Jesus had picked me up and instantly removed me from harm's way. I suddenly found myself beside the train and no longer in front of it.

The engine's course would not/could not, be altered. But mine could.

With toes very near the edge of the platform I watched as the enemy engine sped right by, mere inches from the tip of my nose. Following closely behind were innumerable cantankerous clanking boxcars.

Yes, I stood close by that massive enemy, yet at a very safe distance -- a world away, really.

I relished the company of my Savior by my side while, together, we watched the cars roll by, one after another. We stood close enough that the breeze from their passing rustled my hair and my dress.

Some dread of the train still remained for me, for it was very much as odious as always. But what could it do to me now? Jesus reminded me with only a glance and a smile that trains can only follow their tracks. It mattered not how close by I stood, my enemy could no longer touch me.

I watched there a long time.

Even when I had tired of watching the cars continued without number. This was a very long train indeed. It would be some time before the caboose would make it's way through.

I was tired of the racket and longed for the peace of the train's passing. I wondered how much longer we'd have to endure.

Jesus showed me the railway schedule. The time hadn't come yet.

But it would be very soon.

This train has only one destination. It won't be coming back through again.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Redo.

Our dossier (starring in the above photo) arrived at AWAA's corporate office Friday morning. Our Family Coordinator (FC) called that same day and said our Power of Attorney paper had a few different dates on it, and there was a possibility the State Department would reject it.

So, on Friday, Dustin and I ran around town getting another POA notarized, certified at the Secretary of State, and then we overighted it back to AWAA again. It should arrive Monday first thing morning. In time for them to have it couriered over to the State Department.
I know our FC is as anxious as we are to get out dossier to Addis Ababa. It's nice to feel like we're always on her radar screen. She's been with us every step of the way as we've encountered all these delays.

Friday, March 26, 2010

FUNdraiser Friday: Adopt Africa Couture on Etsy

Our family had the pleasure of traveling with this lovely lady and her wonderful husband to pick up our children together Christmas of 2008. Now the Burks are back in the saddle for adoption round two. I'd love nothing more than to help them raise some funds.

You've got to check out the adorable items in their etsy shop:

favorites are the Africa elephant and the Africa cupcake onesies.

*Every week I highlight a fundraising effort of a family who is adopting. There's always a parade of wonderful items. It's a fun way to shop from the comfort of your home AND help unite children with their forever families.

If you'd like to have your fundraiser featured email me with the details.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Out The Door

Apparently all I needed to do was write a creepy letter to our mail carrier..... because guess what she brought me today?

Our police clearance letter arrived.

We immediately walked right out the door and shipped off our dossier.

It should be to AWAA's corporate office Friday morning.


Thank you, Jesus!

Hey, Yooooooou!!!!

Hi there, Mail Carrier Lady!!!

Sorry, did I scare you?...

Listen, I gotta cut to the chase, here. I want you to understand that I will be stalking you for a couple days.

It's nothing personal, don't worry!

You might feel awkward, and there may be times you'll feel like crying. TRUST me I understand. Totally.

There's just this paperwork thingy. I need it REAL BAD. It has to do with a boy in Ethiopia. Yea, he's my son and I'm trying to get him home.

The last stupid piece of paper I need should be coming ANY day now. You're the one bringing it (lucky YOU!) so that means all my anxious energy is going to be directed toward you for a little bit. Okay?

Good news is, the letter is coming from Tucson so it really shouldn't take that long.

Once it gets here I promise I'll start acting normal again. And I'll even begin to smile at you once more.


The Crazy Lady who waits by the mailbox for you every day

PS- see you tomorrow =)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Approaching the Finish Line

Last Saturday I received an email from AWAA telling me that only one of our police clearance letters had made it to their office. (Well, hasn't that been the trend for our family!? Like it was going to happen any other way, right?) Our Family Coordinator had my letter, but Dustin's was missing in action.

I was dreading this mistake taking another 2+ weeks to be sorted out. Thankfully, our Family Coordinator went to bat for us yesterday and convinced the County Attorney's Office to allow us drive to Mesa and pick up Dustin's police clearance letter.

Strange thing was the County Attorney's Office didn't have a copy of my letter in their file.

(Who knows who else in the court system has mine!? They are a mess over there right now since the commissioner who used to handle these cases retired and his replacements are splitting the case load between what seems to be two or three offices. Oh, so efficient!)

So, as things stand now, AWAA is mailing my original police clearance letter, which they received at their office in Tucson, to us here. And, Dustin's letter is in our possession now.

People, our dossier is locked and loaded! I just need the mailman to bring me my clearance letter and I can kiss that sucker goodbye.

I cannot wait to get that pile of paper outta my hands.

We *should* have a court date on the books before April is up.

Do I dare get my hopes up that this was the last of our hurdles to surmount in bringing A* home?

Yea, I don't think I'll go that far...... but just being here feels pretty wonderful. That's enough for today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Giveaway WINNER

We have a winner for our Cheap Family Fun Giveaway...

Amy Smith, You were chosen at random to receive 2 Ethiopia decals. Just email me at with your mailing address and I'll get those out to you in a snap.

Thanks to everyone who played along. I LOVED your ideas!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FUNdraiser: Cute Handmade Greeting Cards

I was browsing blogs and came across some really cute handmade cards. The Mowen's are raising funds for their adoption.

Go check out Tara's beautiful handmade greeting cards!

PS- Once a week I'd like to highlight some FUNdraisers here at my blog. If you're trying to raise funds for an adoption send me an email with your information and I'll post it here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cheap Family Fun Giveaway

In preparation for school letting out in a few months I was hoping to get some ideas from people about what their favorite summer family activities are.

There's a catch though.

These activities need to cost $20 or less. Free is even better for our budget now that we're likely going to need to travel to Addis Ababa twice before A* comes home for good. The activities can be anything from kid friendly food recipes, to a game, or a craft idea.

So, I'm having a little contest to help spur on creativity. Whoever leaves a comment with their best fun, CHEAP! activity will be entered into a drawing for my first ever bloggy giveaway. A randomly selected winner will get two free Ethiopia decals.

Entrants need to leave their comment by Sunday March 21st at 9:00 PM. I'll draw the winner Monday the 22nd at 9AM.

Hopefully we'll have a summer's worth of fun things for our families to do that won't break the bank.

I know my children thank you very much for your entries!

What's the Point?

I read this article by Albert Mohler and was really intrigued. It wasn't so much Glenn Beck or his inflammatory statements I found interesting. Instead, I saw Mohler expressing a concern which I have been wrestling with lately myself.

It was this statement of his which caught my eye:

"The last century has seen many churches and denominations embrace the social gospel in some form, trading the Gospel of Christ for a liberal vision of social change, revolution, economic liberation, and, yes, social justice. Liberal Protestantism has largely embraced this agenda as its central message."

"The urgency for any faithful Christian is this -- flee any church that for any reason or in any form has abandoned the Gospel of Christ for any other gospel."

There are many people being turned on to the idea of adoption, and I couldn't be happier; but my heart wants to know that the messages they are hearing about what adoption is all about is built on a solid foundation. I want people to understand clearly Who our deeds are pointing to and why we should be doing them.

I have lately been concerned at the recruiting tactics taken by some adoptive families and those who would seek to be "orphan advocates." Sometimes when I listen closely to what people are saying, I walk away with more questions than answers. Usually I find myself asking one thing: "What's the point?" Or, more specifically, "WHO is your point?"

Oh there is no shortage of causes. All of them good. Disasters in other countries, food for the hungry, books for underprivileged students, homes for orphans. There's hardly a Christian I know who isn't involved in some sort of campaign for social change. (I don't say that to be mocking at all. I count myself among them)

But could something be twisting and warping within us? Are we leaving something behind?

We were commanded to make disciples of Jesus NOT disciples of this cause or that cause.

A wise friend once counseled me that when we seek to bring comfort to those in need, whether they be starving from hunger, sleeping in the dirt, or widows and orphans without someone to comfort them, everything we do MUST point back to Jesus. The Lord Jesus should be the purpose behind our motives and our actions. It should be His glory that motivates us.

I am afraid that Christians in the adoption/orphan care community are in danger of falling into a snare.

There is so much to labor over. There is no shortage of work for hands willing to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and hold orphaned children. Many people who have sold out to the cause struggle and fight against the apathy others. Many weep bitter tears of loneliness wondering where the workers are.

I understand that.

But sometimes all this work leads to a tendency to kick things into overdrive. Once we're operating in autopilot it's easy to become resentful. With resentment the door to our heart is easily opened at the knock of our inner Martha and her prideful spirit. Once we give way to that prideful striving spirit, all of a sudden it's easier to fall into other traps laid by pride- that artful and crafty foe of ours.

What was that about our left and right hand? How would that apply to someone who has attached their name to this or that cause? (no matter how small or how large it may be) Especially when there is so much public awareness to raise, so many people to see what is being done so they can join in. (That IS the motive behind what we're doing.... right?) How difficult does it become to separate what is truly fruitful from what if fluff; what is honoring from what is idolatrous?

If we aren't tripped up by the above, there is never a shortage of food for our pride's hunger.

What about those people who are in the position of need?

Oh they will be ever so grateful. They will love us and bless us. They might think we're really something. And if everyone else believes we're really something maybe we can begin to believe it too? How very minute is the line between acts done in humility and those with ulterior motives. While the two may be worlds apart, I have found that it's far too easy to cross over from the side on humity to the side of vainglory.

God forbid we, the Church, forget to point people to our purpose for being here.

It is so very easy to become self righteous and proud, or to fall into traps of legalism and the sinful curse of "doing". It has been my personal experience that motives are too easily warped.

I don't know about you, but I don't trust myself to get it right. I really need the Lord to guide me. ALWAYS.

The only way we can ever hope to be made holy in this regard is to be in continual prayer.

The Church must avoid, at all costs, striving for something that is altogether apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is vital we all pray long and hard over what message it is that we are preaching as we seek to advocate for adoptions, orphan care, or anything else for that matter; no matter how noble the cause might be.

It's ever so easy to veer to the left or right just a smidge. But, as the saying goes, "Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades."

1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Progress! ...And then we wait, again.

You won't believe what we got in the mail last Saturday.

Miracle of miracles, in under two weeks we received our I-171h approval!

That's the favorable determination for advance processing of orphan petition.

I know it's an annoyingly long name that provides very little information. In plain speak, our I-171h is the prep paperwork for A*'s visa, and it's THE paper we needed to get all our ducks in a row so we could ship off our dossier and file for a court date in Ethiopia.

In a normal situation we'd be able to send off our dossier, but we're STILL waiting on the AZ court to send back our police clearance letters. Once those are in hand it should be a matter of weeks until our court date is scheduled.

Now, notice I said scheduled. It should take about 4-12 weeks for our case to actually be heard in Ethiopia.

For now we are planning that the rule changes will apply to us and that we will now need to be present in court for the hearing. Because of the added expense of a second trip I have decided that I cannot go to the orphan summit in Minneapolis. I'm very disappointed, to say the least, but it's just not the right timing for me to go.

I am still very unsure what the waiver process will look like with the new rule changes or how long we will need to stay in Addis Ababa when it's time to bring A* home. I'll have to wait and see how things play out.

All in all we're beginning to feel excited. We're holding back the last sigh of relief until we can hold those clearance letters in our hands. Then, we're going to have a major party!

I told our Family Coordinator that I was praying to have our dossier in her hands before the end of this month.

We'll see.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Window Decals

With the rule change in Ethiopia requiring two trips to the country comes the need for us to raise a bit more funds for adoption travel.

To help supplement our income a gracious friend of mine made these awesome decals for us. Please, head on over and pick one up!

Thanks for your support!

Messy Kitchen

Being raised a Midwestern girl I love my carbs. My husband, too, is a steak and potatoes kind of guy. He likes meat, potatos.... and his deep fryer.

If he were stranded on an island and could only have one item I'm pretty sure my husband would ask for his deep fryer. Okay, and a generator too. But, I'm telling you he'd be a happy camper with his fry daddy.

Ranch dressing is a food group in our kids' universe. It's a side of salad to go with their ranch and don't you mistake!

Yup. We're a bunch of health nuts over here. And, it gets worse.

Both sides of my family are filled with thin people but don't be deceived. Both my aunt and my sister have a hard time staying above 100 pounds and they eat like lumberjacks! If the world were a fair place I, and all my relatives, would be 300 lbs. We're constantly hungry and eat large portions. Anyone who's been to my home longer than 15 minutes will certainly have heard my children complain that they are hungry. Our only saving grace is that we have metabolisms like a hummingbird in flight.

Then, if the issue of cooking arises, most of my relatives head for the phone to dial delivery. Both my mom and dad were minimalists in the kitchen. My cooking skills were nil when I got married.

Once we had kids I did the basics (You know: steaks, lasagna, roast beef, spaghetti, pork chops, manicotti.... are you noticing a pattern here?) but never got much into baking, etc.

Brace yourself, now. I have an annoucement to make.

We've gone organic and are removing all traces of preservatives and chemicals from our food. AND, I'll be cooking EVERYTHING from scratch.

We're even talking organic vanilla extract people. (Which BTW is a total racket! To look at the prices you'd think we were dealing with precious gems or something.)

This is a drastic step, I know. I never thought I'd get to this place, but I have severe food allergies that have recently cropped up. Beyond my allergies I have felt the Lord tugging at my heart to improve out family's eating habits for A*'s sake. His diminished immune system needs the best nutrients it can get and chemicals/preservatives won't help.

So, it's organic boot camp over here!

At the beginning of last week I was not confident I could actually pull off this lifestyle change. But, after a week of cooking EVERYTHING from scratch I am now confident that I CAN do this. It takes planning and a lot of effort, but is doable.

Now that I've got a week of positive experiences under my belt I'm ready to branch out.

So many store bought breads have preservatives, and my kids won't touch whole wheat breads with a ten foot pole. ( I know, shame on me!) I needed to find a way to bake white bread at home. I easily found a plethora of white bread recipes on but quickly realized I knew NOTHING about how to make bread.

Punch dough?

Isn't that unnecessary roughing?


Why yes, I knead a stand mixer ASAP!

I found some lovely videos for beginners on (Don't laugh at me!) Since there may be others out there in the world who are completely ignorant of such subjects- as I was a mere 5 minutes ago- I figured I post them here. (It doesn't hurt that I can find them easily here if I need to refer back to them in the future )

Begin with the first video and follow through first rise and second rise.

Next, we'll switch to a lovely lady named Nancy ( I just LOVE her!)

She's gonna teach us how to separate loaves and form them.

Happy Baking :-)

PS- I do have a bread machince but I hate how that bread turns out! I've tried many recipes and haven't ever found one I like.

If anyone has a TRULY AMAZING recipe that couldn't double as a major paperweight let me know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Design Making A Difference

My friend did a poll to asking us which color bracelet she should purchase, so I popped over and discovered Raven & Lily.

What can I say? I love their stuff! And I thought I'd share here, in case you would too.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Just When...

...I thought I was getting better about posting at least three times a week I blew my streak. I have many excuses though. I'll be explaining more in depth. Be forewarned I have lots to catch you up on.

The big bomb dropped on us today. Ethiopia has changed their requirements for international adoptions. They now require families to be present for court. This means we will be traveling anywhere from 4-12 weeks after our dossier arrives in Ethiopia (this is because we will already have our referral for A*. A referral is the official way of saying we've been matched with him)

After court we will have to leave our little guy (unless Dustin and I decide we want to stay in country longer) and wait until the government conducts another investigation which could take anywhere from 2 1/2- 3 months.

So we could be traveling back to Ethiopia fairly soon here. Stay tuned for updates :-)

We are still waiting for our Police Clearance letters to arrive. We can't move forward until those get here, so please keep praying friends!

In other news guess who signed up to co-lead a Girl Scout troop? Yup. I'm a little nervous but very thankful I have a great co-leader to team up with. I'm curious as to how much time this will eat up during my week? I am praying that once we find our groove it won't be more than a few hours a month for prep work.

Also, aside from being on the Board of Directors for the AZ branch of America World Adoption Association Dustin and I will be helping out as Associates holding Adoption Seminars. We are really looking forward to that!

Did I mention I am also helping my mom plan an adoption conference at her church in November?

Oh, and I'm planning to attend the orphan summit in Minneapolis the end of April. I'm super excited about that because Project Hopeful is going to be there. And, I love Project Hopeful!

Gee is there anything else?!

Nope I think that pretty much covers things.

As you can tell I've been pretty busy here lately. I've got lots on my plate but all very worthwhile things.

This week is spring break for the girlsies so we're enjoying sleeping in, staying up late and goofing off all day. Doesn't get much better than that!

Friday, March 5, 2010


We got the call. Our social service coordinator has our approved home study in her hands. She's mailing it to us today.

She was frustrated to tell me that the commissioner signed it on JANUARY 27th!!


We don't know what caused the delay, but we're happy to know it's on its way to us TODAY. Our family coordinator in VA was so excited to get my email about our approved HS she called me ;-) and told me she'd been waiting on it. HA!

A few glitches were still encountered. (Of course!)

The court forgot to include our police clearance letters with the approval and since all our local Police and Sheriff's offices no longer issue letters for private citizens anymore. (trust me we tried them all. I begged and pleaded and finally got so angry I told one rude receptionist "thanks for NOTHING." Don't even get me started about rude government employees. It's enough to make my head spin.)

We're at the mercy of the court once again to get these letters completed in a timely manner for our family. PLEASE pray for us!

Also, the courts stated in our approval that our re-certification had been approved BUT we completely redid our HS and it's not a re-cert. It's a brand new certification. So our social services coordinator is requesting a new letter. But, that portion won't affect our ability to forward our approved HS to USCIS for A*'s visa nor will it affect our ability to send off our dossier. Though, our dossier can't take flight until we get those pesky police clearance letters so, again, please pray with us that those come back quickly.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Childbirth for HIV+ Mothers

The latest research related to HIV+ women birthing children and the good news about the decreasing risk to mother and child. Read about it here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Just The Good This Time

I've got straight up good news for ya. No bad news chaser.

I figured you'd be as happy as I was to hear that we can get A* home sooner than six months of treatment in country.

I spoke with Carolyn from Project Hopeful today. She gave me all the necessary info. The deal is that once A* has been under treatment for two weeks he would be eligible to file a waiver. Since we're still waiting on our HS he'll be long past that two week mark by the time we pass court, etc., and are ready to come get him.

We'll have to file the 601 waiver (you know that one. It's the one all families adopting HIV+ kiddos used to have to file BEFORE the awesome new law was passed to remove discriminatory bans on HIV+ immigrants. Seeing as HIV isn't communicable if you ARE NOT participating in AT RISK BEHAVIOURS.) This means more cost to us and a few extra bureaucratic hoops to jump through. But that ain't no thang if it means we can get our boy home sooner!

I can't express how grateful I am to have a resource like Project Hopeful at our disposal. If you are adopting an HIV+ child don't hesitate to utilize Project Hopeful's knowledge and expertise.

So, all this is an answer to prayer. And a huge relief.

We're still heartbroken that A* has to suffer with such a serious illness. It breaks our hearts that we cannot be there with him during this time. But we are relieved to know we can still bring him home sooner than six months! If we could just get that dern HS back!

By the way, Project Hopeful is working on some new initiatives for holistic HIV+ orphan care. 157 Million Orphans and Project Hopeful have teamed up to create these unique CHOSEN 1 tee shirts which will fund their work. Head over and pick one up. You'll look great in it!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good With the Bad

I've got good news and bad news.

So, how do you want it? Bad first? Or good?

Since you're not here to answer me I'm going to go with good first.

I got a call from our social worker. She heard from a clerk at the court that our HS is on our way back there from the commissioner. That implies that it has been approved. The clerk told our SW that she expects to have it returned to our SW by end of next week.


Approved home study= good news.

Okay, strap in my friends. This one's a doozie....

A* contracted Tuberculosis in the orphanage.

And, he'll have to stay in Addis Ababa for six months of treatment before he will be issued a visa by the US government.

I've cried buckets today over that one.

Dustin and I are absolutely crushed for A*. This is nothing we'd ever want for him. We are dealing with much grief and a deep sadness I can't even find the words to describe.

There's even a twisted temptation to feel guilty for not getting to him in time. But we KNOW that God is in control. And so we trust.

Even when it hurts.

Tuberculosis + my son = BAD, bad news.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Weaknesses Vs. Strengths

I've had an interesting week and a half. There's been lots going on behind the scenes over here. Much of it including sick children and a husband who's been feeling under the weather.

We're on the mend this week (Thank the Lord!) but we've been the kind of busy that has us barely holding the family routine together. Needless to say, chores have suffered. The laundry is piled high, the kitchen needs mopping, and the pool turned green from the rains we've had. And I'm to tired to care much about it today.

It was report card week for our children. ALL of them show improvement over the last trimester. We were thrilled and celebrated with big ice cream sundaes!

However something was communicated to us which we had known, but hadn't known to the fullest extent.

One of our children is significantly delayed in language arts right now. By about a whole grade.

I was well aware of the struggle for the two years I home schooled. I knew there were some delays, and had asked about them but never received a response that indicated concern. This same student, unfortunately has had THREE teachers over the course of the year. One was injured shortly after school began, one recently left for reasons unknown to the parents since it was never told to us directly (she was the one I ask talked with about my concerns) The newest one seems to be the best since she is the first to really communicate with us so far.

At this point I am not sure if the entire class is behind or just our student. Regardless we're been working overtime to try to help boost our child's skills. This includes after school tutoring and working at home at night for about an hour after that. It's been quite intensive. So far this student has been a willing participant but I keep wondering how long it will take for her to tire out.

As a mother it's difficult to watch one of my children struggle while the other two school-aged siblings sail right on through, ahead of most of their peers. I'm so thankful our student who struggles isn't insecure about it (for now. I PRAY that it stays that way.) Dustin and I try often to highlight the concept that we are well pleased with our child's best efforts and that we never compare her to anyone else. We like to draw attention to the idea that she was created for a specific purpose, one that gave her talents and strengths all her own. We try to comfort her by explaining that our weaknesses are those areas in our lives where we are able to experiences God's grace and provision the most.

My mother, having been held back to repeat second grade, has strong feelings about keeping our student behind. She says she never felt the weight of the difference until she was held back, and that it created major insecurities in her which took years to overcome. My mom told me recently that a friend (who was her same age) asked her why she wasn't in their year book. My mother felt embarrassed all over again to have to respond by informing her friend that her picture could be found in the junior class section.

I am not sure how things will turn out for our student. We are prayerfully considering what to do about next year. So far the school has not mentioned repeating the grade. I am requesting a conference with the teacher and principal ASAP. I'll let you know how that goes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On My Knees

We're coming up to a point where the delays in getting home study approved could potentially necessitate some other paperwork being redone. This would cause further delays in the process of bringing A* home.

We trust the Lord's timing no matter which way things happen. But, feel we ought to do our part to pray diligently over the paperwork since we cannot ever fully know His ways. We've seen Him work miracles for us in some situations, and in others the miracle was that things didn't go according to our plans and that God could still reign over those circumstances. God was good in each case.

Needless to say I'll be spending some time on my knees in prayer. I thought that while I was down there I'd pray for you all as well.

If any of you would like to add your prayer request to my list please leave a comment and I'll add it to my agenda.

Blessings, friends!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Follow up

There has recently been some controversy about CWA (Christian World Adoption) and their ethics. A journalist who produced a scathing report (seen here) last year on CWA came to interview CWA's attorney so he could give CWA's official response to her allegations. CWA had their own cameras rolling during the interview as well. I think they were concerned with ABC (not the US ABC news organization you may be familiar with, but an Australian news agency) editing practices among other things.

Link to the CWA follow up interview videos:

Monday, February 15, 2010

Still Waiting

My assignment for today:

Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

I'm praying today that HS of ours comes through soon, and fighting the anxious feeling I get at the thought of A* having to wait any longer. I'm believing and trusting in God's timing while I wait on Him.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


You know how it is when you're young. You can't imagine "old" people any other way than the way you've always known them.

Growing up I'd heard the stories about how my Grandmother lacked shoes and proper clothes. I knew she had lived in poverty as a child and that things were fairly desperate for her family.

I realize I've only recently gotten to the point where I'm able to process a bit more about what that reality was like for her and how it affected her entire life. I suppose I've finally reached a point where I've gained enough life experience to be able to imagine myself in her shoes as she carried her history forward with her into life as a young wife, then mother, then grandmother.

My mom recently told me a story about my Grams which has been on my mind constantly since my Gram's death. She shared that during one of my Gram's trips to Kenya her party had traveled across the countryside by train. Running alongside the train were children begging for food. The passengers would toss out whatever they had to the children. My Grams relayed to my mother that she couldn't keep from crying because of the experience. When asked why she was crying she responded that she had been one of those children begging. The painful experience of seeing the children in need had been too much for her.

Above is a photo of her as a child. Everyone would joke (including she herself) that she looked pathetic in this photo; that she could have been some kind of poster child, with her ragged doll and her sad expression. While everyone could find the humor in it I think its a fitting reminder of the events that shaped my grandmother, and as a result an entire family.

Today I stand in awe of God's eternal perspective and the way He moves through generations. I am amazed at how truly interconnected we are. It is unfathomable to me how God divinely molds and shapes the character of individuals, families, communities, countries and beyond.

If my grandmother hadn't suffered and learned the lessons her trials taught her, I wonder would I be the woman I am today? How many experiences of hers have trickled down through my mother to me.

I will never know just how deeply the influences of others have impacted my life, but today I can sense a few of the largest.

At her funeral many people spoke of her dedication to social issues and her love of justice. I pray that her legacy would live on. I pray that my grandchildren will be able to recognize some of her in me and that my life's work would point them back to the Divine Author of our faith. I keep on asking God to refine my worship so that it would be in spirit and truth.

Finally, when I wrote my last post about my Grams I didn't have any photos of her. I wanted to include the glamorous wedding photo I spoke of in that post. Here she is in all her bridal glory standing next to the love of her life. And, just because I love their love story, I'm including another one from later on in their lives.

PS- I really wanted you to see how adorable they were in older age but those files contained errors and would not upload. So here they are, not quite as old as they grew together, but still very much in love. Always, when photographed they had their arms around each other. I love it!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Warning To Your Sofa

Breaking News:

Boys are BAD for your couch (or anything else which is upholstered or made of fabric, including but not limited to: your silk drapes, duvet cover, favorite shirt, etc., ... and we must NOT forget about the very real and ever-present danger to your carpets)

All kids come with a slimy coating, but my sources have confirmed that boys, in particular, have an uncanny ability to carry their slime undetectably, thus enabling them to carry out covert operations. Be forewarned that Invisible Boy Slime is activated by smearing it on something, (oh, say, like a couch). Once it comes in contact with fabric it loses its invisible properties and sets in like cement (or magic marker, whichever supersedes 1,000 years of perpetual attempts to remove said slime). Once the Slime has been deposited good luck getting that stuff out. EVER.

This concludes my public service announcement

PS- I would have posted a photo for educational purposes but my camera battery is dead and a certain boy we know and love has momentarily misplaced the charger. As soon as he finds it he assures us it will be returned to the rightful owner.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

147 Million Orphans

If you are looking to raise money for an adoption or missions trips aimed at serving orphans I'd like to direct you tho the 147 Million Orphans website. They sell products wholesale for fundraising.

147 Million Oprhans also supports Amazima which is the ministry of a young woman who is doing many great things in Uganda. YOu can learn more about both organizations by following the links provided.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Things We Say

Oh my goodness I cannot believe I've never posted on the topic of adoption language! Being a person who is constantly thinking of ways to better express myself, the idea of expressing adoption in a positive light is near and dear to my heart.

You may or may not have heard the term "positive adoption language" or PAL but it's likely you are already familiar with some of the language.

Positive Adoption Language is a term used to define a set of words or phrases that is, by and large, accepted by the adoption community. (Though PAL is NOT without its staunch opponents here in the US) These terms are generally considered appropriate for use when speaking about adoption, and are those most often in use today.

PAL is defined by a desire to give the maximum respect, dignity, responsibility, and objectivity surrounding the process of adoption. It is also intended to affirm people who have been adopted and empower them.

Some people have dismissed the importance of intentional adoption language as being "too PC."

Don't get me wrong, this is SO NOT about being concerned about offending people who are easily offended; I'm not into being politically correct. I am into being conscious of my words and their usage in order to express clearly, in the most respectful and positively truthful light, the adoption experience, as far as I am able.

Words matter. They matter to the people who are trying to learn about adoption. They matter to the first parents who are not raising their children. They matter in portraying accurately what adoptive families are all about. And, most especially, they matter to the children and adults who have been adopted.

I don't think there will ever be a time when I can sit back and say I'd don't need to take inventory of my use of language in describing adoption. I'm not perfect. I am going to blow it and will require grace. But I also know my heart intends to honor everyone involved here.

I'm constantly looking for ways to express myself better. I strive to be diligent in trying to view things more from Jonas and A*'s perspective. I ask myself how they might feel about the different things I say, and how I can improve.

Here are a few links about PAL (positive adoption language):

First, in the interest of educating families about what the resistance to PAL looks like I thought I'd add this link for your consideration. The opposition has their own set of words/phrases which they call Respectful Adoption Language or RAL. A simple google search will turn up many more blogs and articles on the topic if you're interested.

A list of positive vs. negative words according to the PAL philosophy of language:

A more in depth article explaining PALs intention:

In the evolution of my own speech I have come to call what many would recognize as Jonas' "birth mother" his first mother. I believe this more accurately describes who she is. I believe it places her positionally first in the timeline of his life, which is accurate, and also gives him freedom to place her first in his heart as well. It's my attempt to acknowledge the great loss of her in his life. I don't feel this title diminishes myself in any way. Calling her first is something I'm totally comfortable with. I am committed to never feeling threatened by Jonas' love for her in any way. Later, when Jonas is older he can refer to me and his first mother how ever he chooses, but for now this is the way I choose to represent her before him.

I, personally, have grown uncomfortable with the term "bio kids" or "biological children". It may just be me, but, last I checked my son who was adopted is biological too. I simply prefer to take the extra second and a half to state it this way, "My children who were birthed and my children who were adopted."

I always state adoption in the past tense since it was a one time event. It's over now. My son who WAS adopted has been adopted, now the adoption is OVER. He's simply my son.

I also strongly dislike when people still refer to our son as an orphan. He is no longer an orphan. The term orphan in Jonas' case was a legal term which is now obsolete. It signified that his mother had chosen to legally terminate her parental rights thus requiring new legal parents for him, which we became. She cared for his needs by taking steps to ensure he could have new legal guardians and parents who would lovingly raise him and provide for him.

I am sure than when A* comes home it will be a different, and at times trying, experience as we navigate a new set of circumstances and how to communicate those to A* and others around us.

In A*'s case neither of his first parents chose to initiate adoption because they were both dead. Another family member made that decision for them. Events necessitated a new set of parents step in and raise A*. We are honored and proud to be able to be those parents.

For anyone who says adoption isn't messy they're crazy! It is messy. But it has it's benefits and its blessings too.

Then again, life is MESSY. There's no avoiding it.

What are your thoughts on the whole PAL vs. RAL debate? Any pet peeve phrases driving you nuts lately? Have you noticed your language evolving as well? Share your thought please! I'd love to know.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Abolishment of the Law

I follow John Piper on facebook. This was too good not to share here:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sly Pride

In keeping with my recent posts, I went and studied the definitions of the words criticism and judgement (let me take a moment to nod toward Sassy Granny for sparking a new found love of word studies with her fondness for her good friend Merriam.) For some reason I had always made a distinction between the two in my mind. In Jen's world criticism seemed to be something spoken while judgement was something more internal, more mental.

I found no such distinction made in the dictionary, though it seems in common speech people do tend to use criticism to speak of comments or thoughts being expressed outwardly by a person, namely the critic.

I began thinking about the act of speaking critically or pronouncing judgements over people.

You totally know what came to mind next, right? Of course it was the book of James since I've been studying there for a few months.

Chapter two of James- WOW! I'm blown away once again at the richness of God's Word is. When I came to verses 14-18 I couldn't help but chew once again on the connection our beliefs have with our actions. James 2:18 asserts that merely claiming faith doesn't prove we possess it. The real test comes from what is born out of our faith in the form of deeds. In other words what we really trust in, rely on, cling to, and adhere to turns up in the way we "DO".

It occurred to me that it might be relatively easy for us to clean up our external behaviours and keep criticism of others to a minimum by only sharing with our spouses or close friends when we feet the occasion really called for it. We might be able to (mostly) curb our outward expression of judgement toward others. That might make us feel like we've really accomplished something; like maybe we've done enough. We might be tempted to say, "I'm not judging others."

We must remember that faith without deeds is useless, though.

I think it is so very dangerous for Christians to stop at mere external behaviours, because we know it's only a matter of time until what is truly in our heart flows right out our mouth. We are also aware that God is interested in the contents of our hearts. It would be faulty of us to assume that the deeds, here, would be merely external. The deeds of our hearts may be far more treacherous, running amuck and unchecked if we define them merely by superficial parameters.

Of course it's a double edged sword because we often gauge real change by visible "fruit" in a person's life. We are told that we will know a person by their fruit. Though sometimes we have to wait a LONG time for that fruit to appear. The temptation during that time is to consider the late bloomer a bearer of bad fruit, or a non bearing plant all together.

Case in point of a late bloomer: myself in my story. And so we see how easy it is to move through temptation and into the sin of playing judge over others whenobserving the only thing we can see- that is the "fruit" of a person's behaviour. We're reminded once again that only God can know a person's heart.

I don't know about you but all this confronts me with a REAL need for humility in my life. My heart is heavy to think of the myriad of ways I pass judgement of people daily. The ways in which I do this might seem small at the time; they might seem harmless but I'm realizing they most certainly are NOT.

For example (and you're REALLY going to find this ironic): I looked at a women who was picking up her daughter in the school's car line the other day. She was wearing outdated CLOTHES (are you laughing at my folly yet?) that were very unflattering on her. That she looked clean was about the best I could say for her disheveled ensemble. For a second I was tempted to ask her what possessed her to appear in public dressed like that. But then, I realized what little I know about anything in the world. I realized it was possible that this woman could have given all her best clothes to a homeless woman so she could interview for jobs. Or, maybe she was laid off and could only afford to buy second hand. Possibly she barely managed to trude out the door when her iron broke after she was up all night with a sick child. I don't know.

My point is, I DON'T know. And I probably won't find out either. So why would I want to spend my time (even if it's just a fraction of a minute) making assumptions and creating an atmosphere in my mind where I would be tempted to somehow elevate myself above another?

However I might attempt to explain that I wasn't intending to make sweeping assumptions about her character (only her curious taste in attire) I cannot explain away the futility of such behaviour.

All this to say, I'm taking on a new attitude when it comes to looking outward into the world; I want to see people through grace-colored lenses.

If I happen to come across someone in a situation where I might be tempted to form some kind of opinion about them or their actions I'm asking God to help me stop, and take inventory of my heart and my intentions to determine whether or not it is fruitful for me to even expend that energy.

I take James chapter two seriously when it says we need deeds to prove our faith is alive. The catch is I, alone, cannot do the heart transforming work needed to stop judging others. I need the Holy Spirit for that. So, if James 2:20 admonishes us that faith without deeds is dead, Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us just Who those deeds originate from.

Philippians 2:1-11 (NIV)
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vanya, Sam & Andy

I posted a while ago about Vanya.

Today a family is officially pursuing his adoption!! I learned of this great news a while ago but forgot to post it here. Head over to Vanya's blog to read all about it.

The same friend of mine who volunteers at Vanya's orphanage, created the blog for him, and is responsible for linking him up with his forever family has taken on the challenge of helping to place two older boys. You can go here to meet Sam and Andy.

Below is a letter from my friend about Sam and Andy:

They are genetically related brothers. They lost their mother in a fire and
their dad is in jail. They were living with their uncle but he could not afford
them. I dont know when they stopped living with their uncle but it was quite
some time ago, so they have been in the orphanage for awhile. No one in the years
they have been up for adoption has inquired about them. They are healthy boys.

We have tried to find out as much as we can. If a family is wanting to
commit to these boys, careful assessment will take place before the process is
begun due to the boys age. Paperwork has to be submitted by October before one
of the boys turns 16.

Truth or Love?

Seems I inadvertently stumbled into a theme this week with the whole loving others / keeping oneself from judging topic. Once I started thinking on this stuff I couldn't shut my brain off.

I've been thinking a lot about the ways in which I bow to religiosity in my own life, and about what a fine line there is between speaking the truth in love and just plain old speaking the truth.

There is a BIG difference, I think.

I can speak the truth with the best of them. There's a famous saying in our family that when I am angry I can state a solid case before a person about why I think they're stupid, why everyone else thinks they're stupid, and why they should think they're stupid too.

That's NOT a compliment to my character. In fact I think that makes me WAAAAAY worse than my finger wagging friends from the worship service. Thankfully, their memory is a reminder to me that I cannot afford to be critical (of myself or others).

What do you think about the difference between speaking the truth and speaking the truth in love? Have you ever been the unhappy recipient of a harsh truth? Did it produce feelings of shame or guilt? I'd love to hear your perspective.

Also, I'm really interested in what you think about shame and guilt, and their affects, either negative or positive, in our lives. Do you think they are productive? Or do you think they are counterproductive?

I'm going to be studying shame and guilt in the Bible. If you've done a particular study on the subject please share the results with me. Your verses/resources/thoughts would be much appreciated.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rain Drops Keep Falling, Continued.

At the close of my last post, we left Jen standing in a bathroom in complete hysterics after a particularly humilliating confrontation at a worship service somewhere in Atlanta.

I'd like to share my thoughts on that experience.

I'd like to start off with 1 Corinthians 13:1 as it relates to the gang of concerned peers who approached me.

I don't think the Lord could have orchestrated a better paradigim for what I ought NEVER to do to another living soul for as long as I should live. Even now the sting of humilation penetrates deep into my heart.

I don't hold anything against those young women who approached me. In many ways they were so RIGHT. They we're justified in being disgusted by my attire. They we're perfectly within their right to be concerend for their "brothers". Clearly they knew something was askew.

Unfortuantely, they decieded that they should deal with me instead of the Lord, and they pushed aside His command to do everything in love, preferring their own methods instead.

What they didn't understand is that while my attire was a real problem I had many more significant problems happening under the surface. They allowed themselves to become indignat and forgot what it meant to receive grace. They discriminated among themselves and became judges with evil thoughts. And, just like the Pharasees, they forgot just who it was Christ died for.

So many times when we talk about sharing the Gospel in areas of the world where there is immense sufering due to lack of basic physical necessities, we talk about how there comes a point when a person needs to have food in their belly and water to drink before they are able to receive anything deeper. Well, I think love is a necessitytoo; like air, or water, or food, love is VITAL to people being able to hear and receive the Gospel.

When a person comes into church starving for love who do we think we are to deny them it? Do we think we're serving Jesus? Do we really believe He is pleased with us, the children He rescued from wallowing in the mirk and mire of our own wretched sin, for rejecting each other?

How could these ladies have dreamed of the many nights I had been sitting before the Lord allowing Him to wash my feet? How could they have known that I had turned over my heart to Him? They were never privvy to the conversations me and my Jesus had together! They were unaware of where my heart stood in relation to God's.


Luke 6:36-38 (NIV)
36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)
2 All a man's ways seem right to him,
but the LORD weighs the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)
... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

James 2:12-13 (NIV)
12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)
12 There is a way that seems right to a man,
but in the end it leads to death.

In the end I see that even the horrible shame I felt as a result of this life experience isn't a waste. I don't have to be pelted by guilt and embarassment. I can receive the blessings God offers me for my participation in that affair.

What seemed like a torrential downpour at the time now feels like a gentle restorative mist.

Not only am I surrounded by God's grace, I'm soaking in it.

Genesis 50:20 (NIV)
You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
(When I read this verse I replace "many lives" with MY LIFE)

Lord keep my feet from stumbling into the pit of pride! May I NEVER forget what you have done for me, and may I NEVER be afraid to share Your love with others. I ask you to never let my love for You grow cold. Don't ever let me prefer religion over my ralationshp with you. Don't let my insecurities keep me from extending grace and peace to others. Amen