As for me, I know of nothing else but miracles. - Walt Whitman

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's Up To Us......

Last night, Ashton said to me, "Mommy, I hope you never die. You know why? 'Cause I always need to have a mommy. And you're the best mommy I could ever have."

 My heart immediately melted into a little puddle on the floor. And then I started thinking. Which, by the way, doesn't happen too often! = ) How many children out there need to have a mommy? Want to say those same words to someone, but can't? Need to feel love, protection, and support from someone, but no one is there to offer it? For so many children, words like these are impossible to say. There is no one. They are totally alone in this world. How about my little Ethiopian child? Where is he right now? Is he out there somewhere, totally alone? Has his mommy died? Is she too sick to care for him? Does he have enough to eat? Is he already at an orphanage feeling sad and lonely? Wanting to have a mommy who will hug and kiss him and hold him and care for him? I just want to tell him, "I'm coming, my dear child. Just as fast as I can. I'm coming for you. I can't wait to see you, to hug you, to kiss you, to hold you and tell you that everything will be alright. To care for you forever. To be your very own mommy who will be here for you, no matter what. And you will be my little boy. And I will cherish you always."

There is a HUGE orphan crisis in the world today. I have heard several different numbers, from 143 million to 168 million orphans. No matter the number, it is absolutely staggering to think of that many children - all needing someone to care for them. All needing a mommy and daddy. All needing the basic necessities of life. I read once that if only 8% of people who call themselves Christians would care for just one of these children, there would be no more orphans. The crisis would be over. And each one of these precious children would have a mommy and daddy. So what about you? Is there someone out there for whom you could make a difference? Either through adoption, foster care, or a sponsorship program? It's up to us to be the change. To be the hands and feet of Jesus in this fallen world. To spread a little light in all the dark corners, and to open our hearts to those who need us.

One Hundred Years from now 
(excerpt from "Within My Power" by Forest Witcraft)
One Hundred Years from now 
It will not matter 
what kind of car I drove, 
What kind of house I lived in, 
how much money was in my bank account 
nor what my clothes looked like. 
But the world may be a better place because 
I was important in the life of a child.

Monday, August 30, 2010


......was Ashton's very first day of school. He's a big Kindergartener now!

Of course, after he got on the bus and rode away, I cried. I do every time one of my kids starts school. It just always seems a little bit scary to send them off into the big world by themselves for the very first time. Plus, I can't believe that my little guy is so big already! Anyway, I came back into the house and was standing in the kitchen with tears streaming down my cheeks, and Malia started singing, "God Will Take Care of You." It was so sweet, and made me smile. And Ashton LOVED school! He just came up and asked me if he could go back again today. When I told him that he had to wait until tomorrow, he looked very disappointed. Hopefully, he'll always love school this much!!!

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Evening Drive.....

Last evening, we were out in the back yard playing baseball when one of the kids spotted a hot air balloon in the distance. So we all piled into the van and chased it down.

We saw some other interesting sights on our drive through the countryside as well, including:

A mural on the side of a barn

a statue of a soldier on the same farm

beautiful views of the river

and even a blue heron!

Sometimes it's just kind of fun to drive around exploring and discovering things close to home that you've never seen before. The kids really enjoyed it too, even though we abruptly ended our baseball game. (That's OK, because I wasn't able to catch the ball at all last night. Maybe I should blame it on the brand new baseball glove that wasn't broken in yet.) Hope you all have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today We Are Celebrating......

.....Adrian! Eight years ago today, he was born! Our first-born son came into this world on the morning of August 26, 2002, at almost 9 pounds. He had TONS of black hair, and looked like a little Elvis because of his long sideburns! The doctor said that someday, Adrian was going to be a great football player, and wondered if we could please move to the school district that he lives in so that Adrian could be on his football team. And Adie absolutely LOVES anything having to do with football! Here is the big guy on his 8th birthday:

We had a birthday party for him last weekend, and he will have another one this weekend. Tonight, we'll have a small family celebration here at home. Here are a few pics from his party last weekend:
(My camera lens must have been smudged right where Adrian's head was! Oops!)

Lots of kids who had lots of fun!

Checking out all the new gifts!

Blowing out the candles!

We hope you have a great birthday, Adie! We love you so so much and we are thankful that God has blessed our lives with you! Have a great time being 8!!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Well, It's Official.......

......the summer is over. School is now in session. Last night we went to open house at the school to meet the kids' new teachers for the year.
Ashton and Mrs. Shepherd

Adrian and Mrs. Bertwell

Shana and Miss Shininger

And today was the first day of school for Shana and Adrian. Ashton will start Kindergarten on Monday.

Adrian is in 2nd grade this year.

And Shana is in 4th grade.

Here they are waiting (not so) patiently for the bus.

And it FINALLY came! Yay!

It is so hard to believe that the summer is over already. When the kids walked outside this morning, it was foggy and cool. Fall is definitely right around the corner. But I think the kids were excited and ready to go back to school, and it will be good to get everyone back on a schedule again. Here's hoping everybody out there has a wonderful school year!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Adoption Lessons Learned:

1. Adopting is a lot harder than being pregnant. Granted, I had really great pregnancies, but with each one, I had a due date. I knew a basic time frame of when we would get to meet the child. I knew how old the child would be and knew I would get to experience all of the "firsts." First smile, first tooth, first steps. I knew where the baby was at all times (obviously, as the child was a part of me!), and felt every jump, kick and hiccup. I knew that the child was healthy and was getting enough to eat. I even had regular checkups where I learned the baby's estimated size and heart rate, and was assured that all was going well. With adoption, I know none of those things. But what an exciting journey it is!

2. Adoption love is an interesting and amazing thing. I never before knew it was possible to love an unknown person so much. I have no idea what our child will look like, whether it will be a boy or a girl (or two boys, two girls, or one of each!), how old it will be, where it is right now, what the child's background is, or when we will get to meet him/her/them, but I do know that it is very possible to love someone with your whole heart even though you know absolutely nothing about them. I pray every day that God will take care of them, and give them enough food, clothing, shelter and love. I pray that He will be an ever-present Father to them, and that they will trust in Him completely.

3. Adoption takes a lot of faith, trust, and perseverance. We have some friends who have adopted several children. When we told them we were going to adopt, they encouraged us to remain strong and rely on God throughout the process. They told us that when they were going through it, there were times when they needed to get out of the boat and walk on water when all they really wanted to do was curl up in the bottom of the boat and go to sleep. Later on, I learned exactly what they meant by that. I was tired, so tired of paperwork, obstacles, and silly little mistakes that had to be corrected, but knew I had to press on anyway. Satan did his best to discourage me, even tried to make the goal seem impossible, but God was right there beside us every step of the way. All things (yes, even stacks and mountains of paperwork!) are possible with God.

4. Patience really is a virtue, and a good one to have. I was extremely impatient as I waited for our homestudy to be written. After all, I had worked desperately to get our portion of the paperwork complete, and all of a sudden I was waiting on someone else. It seemed to take forever, and was out of my control. As long as I could be doing something to help the process along, I was fine. But waiting on other people? Not my strong point. However, now that our homestudy and dossier are turned in, our USCIS appointment is over, we have our FDL, and all we're waiting on is our referral, I feel completely relaxed about the whole thing. There's nothing more I can do. It's amazing how far a little patience can go. So yes, I'm still anxious, but am trusting that God's timing is perfect. Waiting is never easy, but lately I have been encouraged by these verses from "The Time of Waiting", a song in one of our hymnals at church. It says:

"Few fruits ripen from the spring-time sunshine;
Not till autumn is abundance shown;
Without waiting we never feel the rapture
Of a precious, bounteous harvest grown.

God often gave beyond all expectation
More than heart has wished for to behold;
Should not this give us new inspiration
To await what His word has foretold?

Never a word of God was uttered vainly,
Although its fulfillment seemed afar;
Noble things take time, though promised plainly;
And the very best we find in God."

5. There are a lot of wonderful people out there who are going through this with us. In the beginning of our adoption, it was really important to me to go with a Christian adoption agency. So we chose All God's Children International. They are WONDERFUL to work with, and they also have a website where all of us adoptive parents can get together to share news, prayers and encouragement. It is really a great group of people, and I have learned a lot from them. Some of their individual blogs are listed in my sidebar over there.

6. It is awesome having a sister who has been through this before. My sister Larisa and her husband David adopted a child from Ethiopia about a year ago. (To see their blog, click here.) When she was going through the process, she would give me updates and talk about things like homestudies and dossiers and USCIS and I never really fully understood what she was talking about. Now I completely understand. And she also became one of my case managers as we were going through the paperwork stage. If I had a question, I would call her up and she knew just what to do. I must have seemed really smart to my AGCI case manager, because every time she called to ask if I had any questions or needed help with anything, I said, "No, I don't think so!" Because of Larisa, I already had my questions answered! = ) Now, David and Larisa are going through the process for their second child, and it is so great to have someone who understands exactly what we're going through. We talk on the phone just about every day, and are each other's adoption sounding boards.

There are more lessons I could share, but this post is getting long! And there are no pictures to keep it interesting, so I better sign off! Hope you all have a great day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

In The Eyes of The Beholder......

The other night, I went away for the evening while Chris watched the kids. I returned home to find these two garish (oh, excuse me, I mean gorgeous!) ladies waiting for me:

They had used scrapbooking chalks as make-up, and were quite pleased with the results! I guess you could say that they have good imaginations!

Then today, Ashton informed me that his eyelashes are getting too long. Imagine a girl ever complaining about such a thing!! Why is it that the boys always get the long, thick lashes?

Have a happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From Sunrise Until Sunset.....

"From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised."  Psalm 113:3

Monday, August 16, 2010

One of My Favorites.....

I love adoption videos. There's just something so beautiful about watching a family meet their child for the first time. Some of you have probably seen this video lots of times, but if you're anything like me, you never get tired of watching it. Many, many people have been inspired to adopt a child because of this video. Also, my little nephew Yikealo shows up in it 3 times - my sister and brother-in-law brought him home just a few weeks after Lucy Lane's gotcha day. Yikealo and Lucy Lane both came from Hannah's Hope, the orphanage our child(ren) will come from as well. No wonder this is one of my faves! Enjoy!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Delectable Summer Treats and Other Random Ramblings

I don't have a garden, but my very generous Mother-in-law shares her bountiful crop each year. The kids and I went to her house this morning and picked green beans, tomatoes, okra, cantaloupe, peppers, sweet corn and blackberries. I've also received zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, onions and cucumbers from her this summer. We all love the fresh fruits and vegetables!

While we worked on the vegetables, we listened to Adventures in Odyssey (Shana is addicted, especially to the romantic ones and the mysteries). Our lunch consisted of all fresh produce, and Malia asked the blessing in the following manner:

"Father which art in Heaven....we come this day.....our daily bread.....don't let anybody get killed.....walk down the straight path to Heaven......encourage us.....keep us.....if Haiti doesn't have food, we will give them Jesus' name, Amen."

Then this afternoon, we spent some time in the pool.....

And, the kids keep reminding me that I promised them that we could all camp out in the living room tonight.......for some reason I think that I'll be very tired tomorrow.......somehow sofabeds (sofa beds? sofa-beds?) just don't compare with TempurPedics.......

Have a happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Can Make a Difference...........

"...I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me......Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  - from St. Matthew 25.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Two Great Medical Reports and Pickle Monsters

 Medical Report Number One:

When Adrian was 1 year old, he would eat something and then start coughing really hard until he eventually threw up. This happened all. the. time. We're talking like 4 or 5 times a day. As you can imagine, it got really old cleaning up after him all the time, but we couldn't figure out what was wrong. The doctor treated him for acid reflux, but it didn't seem to work. Finally, right before his 2nd birthday, we discovered that he had asthma and allergies. Lots of them. Corn, soy, nuts, shellfish, and many environmental allergies, including trees and grasses. So, he started in on lots of medicines, including breathing treatments three times a day. It took us three hours to make our rounds through the grocery store the first time after his diagnosis - we had to stand and read every label on every box to make sure Adrian could have it. We soon learned that corn is in EVERYTHING! Corn starch, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, maltodextrin - it goes by many different names, but if it was on the label, we had to put it back on the shelf. I had to adjust the way I prepared meals, and every time we went to someone else's home for dinner, we had to pack a separate meal for Adrian. We got to the point, though, where he did absolutely fine as long as we watched his diet, and he didn't even have to take much medicine anymore. Lately, he has been doing great, and at his annual appointment at the Allergy and Asthma Clinic last week, his doctor said that he believes that Adrian is growing out of his corn and soy allergies! Yay!! He still has to avoid shellfish and nuts (he could potentially be fatally allergic to cashews - yikes!), but now he can have things like candy, hot dogs, popcorn, corn on the cob, doughnuts, chicken McNuggets, french fries, and other foods that he hasn't had for 6 years! And he only has to take medicines in the fall when the environmental allergens are really bad.

 Medical Report Number two:

When I was pregnant with Ashton, the doctor told me that some test results showed that our baby was either going to have Down's Syndrome or Trisomy 18. If the baby had Trisomy 18, he would have multiple health problems and would probably die before the age of 1. Of course we were worried, but this was our child. We would love him no matter what. When Ashton was born, he was perfectly healthy. The only things out of the ordinary were that he had two blood vessels in his umbilical cord instead of three, and he had a hole in his heart. The doctors did several tests over the next few years, and eventually the hole closed. He does have a heart murmur, though, and last year at his pediatric cardiology appointment, the left side of his heart looked slightly enlarged. Today, he had another appointment, and the cardiologist said that everything looks normal. He does have a heart murmur and several of his valves have slight leakage, but the doctor said that it is not a big deal. Ashton will be able to play sports and run around like any other little boy, and will be able to lead a normal life. Another Yay!

 Today, as I sat and watched the computer screen as the doctor performed an ultrasound on Ashton's heart, I had to wonder how someone could possibly NOT believe that there is a Divine Creator. A human body is put together so perfectly, so complete and complex. There is no way that anything like that could be formed by accident. As the doctor moved the wand over Ashton's chest, I could see the different chambers of his heart, the blood pumping through, and all the little valves opening and closing at exactly the right times. I once again marveled at the beauty and majesty of God's wondrous and amazing Creation.

Anyway, here are my two little dudes:

And Now For the Pickle Monsters:

My boys are each other's best friends and worst enemies. (I'm sure all you other moms can relate!) Anyway, the other day Ashton was picking on his brother, so I told him to stop. Adrian said, "It's ok, Mom! He can't pick a fight with me, 'cause I'm as calm as a pickle monster who's eating pickles!" Well, alright, whatever! I guess I can't argue with that logic!

Friday, August 6, 2010

August Numbers

 Today we received our new official waitlist numbers for this month. They are:




Since last month, we've moved 6 spots for girls, 2 spots for boys, and 1 spot for siblings. The waitlist does not take into consideration what age group everyone is waiting for, and most of the families are waiting for children ages 0-12 months. Since our age parameters are 0-3 years, we will most likely not make it all the way to number 1 before we get our referral call. I sure hope it comes soon!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Do You Really Need That New Outfit?

Or car? Purse? Computer? Shoes? Cruise? _____? You fill in the blank with that thing that you "need" right now. And yes, I'm just as guilty as the next person about wanting more stuff. Or better stuff. Sometimes I think I "need" to go buy more clothes for my kids (they have to be well-dressed for school, you know!) I think I "need" new furniture for my living room (my current furniture is 10 years old and needs to be updated, after all!) I think I "need" to repaint my bathroom because, well, let's just face it - I'm sick of the stripes that I painted in there a few years ago and want to change the color. Even though it looks just fine the way it is. And Chris could use a new car. Oh, the one he drives to work runs great, but it really isn't much to look at. How many times have I made a quick trip to the grocery store because even though our cupboards were full of food, there wasn't anything "good" to eat? How many times have I left food on my plate or thrown away leftovers because I didn't want them? I "needed" to prepare new food for the next meal. I could make excuses all day and try to justify why I "need" so many new things, but how much do I take for granted? How many people are there who have no clothing at all?  Who have no living room, let alone living room furniture? Who only dream of indoor plumbing? Who have never even owned a car, or a bicycle for that matter? Who have no food at all, or have to dig through trash to find some? I'm not saying that we should feel guilty because of all the nice things we have. God has richly blessed us, that's for sure, and we need to truly be thankful for those blessings. Everything that we call "ours", though, isn't really "ours" at all. It's all God's. So how would He want us to use it? We need to be content with what we have, and to remember those who are less fortunate. Help them out when we get a chance. Serve others. And maybe even forgo that new "something" and instead donate the money that we would have spent to someone else who needs the basic necessities of life.

I have recently learned about Korah, a village in the dump on the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Addis is the city we will be traveling to in order to bring our child(ren) home. The videos below detail what life is like here; it is very humbling and heartbreaking to see how these people live and to realize again just how much we  take for granted. Please take a moment to watch these videos, and then sit back and reflect on what you have seen.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Teen's Challenge To All of Us......

This is a wonderful and inspiring post written by a teenage girl. She is one of nine children (4 biological, 5 adopted). I hope and pray that someday my children will have the same passion and heart for helping others.

Kids helping kids in Ethiopia

Have you ever had a time in your life when you knew you had reached a turning point? Where you knew things were going to be different- that YOU were going to be different. That is what happened to me when I was 9 years old.

My name is Addisyn and I am about to turn 15 years old. This is my moms blog but she asked me to share part of my story with you.

When I was 9 years old we adopted my sister, Aleigha, from Guatemala. My parents had asked my brothers and I how we felt about adopting a baby and we were all on board. What I didn't know though at the time was how adopting a child would change my entire family- and my entire life.

When you are 9 years old it's pretty important to you that you are like every one else. It's pretty important to you that you fit in. I remember wanting to dress like my friends, talk like my friends and do the same thing as my friends. Adopting my baby sister changed my being like everyone else. When she entered our family we no long 'looked' like everyone else. When we went out in public people stared at us or asked questions. We were no longer just an ordinary family- we were now a multi racial, adoptive family with five children (who many people considered a large family). It was sort of hard for me to pretend I was just like everyone else anymore- because God had called our family to be different.

What I didn't know then was how God would use this experience to mold me into becoming who I am today. What I didn't know was that God would use our experience to create a passion for the least of these. What I didn't know then was how glad I would be that He did.

Going against the norm isn't always an easy thing to do. Actually sometimes it's downright hard. While God has blessed me with many supportive friends- we still do things differently than a lot of other families. Different isn't bad- it's just different and most kids my age just want to fit in. I'm okay with not fitting in. I'm okay with just being who I am. I may not win any popularity contests- but at least I definitley don't struggle with trying to figure out who I am .

Because of our adoptions, I have had the opportunity to go to Guatemala and work at Eagles Nest Orphanage and also travel to Ethiopia this past March to bring home my baby sister, Havyn. I loved Ethiopia before I even set foot there and that love only doubled when I did. My favorite part of being in Ethiopia was getting to spend the day with missionaries Gary and Peggy Ifft. Gary took us to Adami Tulu Preschool in Ziway, Ethiopia and I am pretty sure I left a piece of my heart there. I have a quote hanging on my bedroom wall that reads "When you walk with God, you always reach your destination."
I had reached mine.

Being at the preschool that day also made me realize how much I had been taking for granted. I no longer wanted to just claim to be a Christian- I wanted to LIVE as a Christian. Instead of just memorizing the verses in the bible- I wanted to put them into action. I knew that I couldn't return home and go on with my life the way it had been. I couldn't open my closet door and see 12 pairs of shoes in there without thinking about those left behind with none. I couldn't go into the mall with friends and spent $15 on yetanother t-shirt knowing that $15 would have fed 5 children at the preschool for a month. I couldn't just be a regular American teenage girl anymore- I was different.
And different, I am realizing, is a good thing.

Last Tuesday families in Ziway, Ethiopia lined up to sign their children up for preschool. Over 50 children came- and there were only 30 openings. Such a huge need! Each child enrolled will need a school uniform. The cost for boys is $6.20- which includes pants, shirt, a vest, their book bag and supplies. The cost for girls is $5.83 which includes a skirt, shirt, vest, their book bag and supplies. The monthly fee for a child to attend is 25 Birr ($1.84). Yes, you read that right- $1.84 A MONTH is all it cost. You and I probably spend more than that on chewing gum and yet some children are too poor to even pay that.

Soon, children all over America will go 'school shopping' with their parents. Shoes, clothes, socks, and supplies will be thrown into their carts without much thought. And one thing I can guarantee you is that it will cost you far more than $6.20.

My challenge for you is to talk to your child. Tell them. Teach them. They won't know unless you do- I didn't. Teach them something far more important than what they will learn the entire year at school. Challenge them to go without one of those items thrown into your cart and instead send that money to Lifesong for Orphans and for Adami Tulu preschool. Show them how to think of others. Help them develop a heart for giving. Show them how to think outside of their own wants. Teach them to make their lives count. Develop in them an awareness for others. Teach them how to care.

More than anything in this world I would love to sit in my desk at school this year, love for your child to sit at their desk this year, knowing across the world, in Ethiopia, another child is getting the same privilege as we are because you and I chose to care enough to do something about it.

Will you please help me? Will you please help your child help another? Even if you can just give enough for one child to have a uniform and a book bag, that is huge to that one child.

Today, you can choose to live a life that is bigger than you. Today you can reach far beyond your ordinary existence. Help educate a child. Give them a chance. Change their life.

They changed mine, now it's time for me to do the same for them.

Borrowed from

Monday, August 2, 2010

Our Recent Visitors!

A few weeks ago, one of Malia's "dear friends" as she calls them, showed up in our back yard.

Last week, a mama and her babies showed up in our front yard:

It was fun to watch them, and they came up pretty close to the house. As soon as the mother saw us, she stomped one of her front hooves on the ground twice, and both of her babies came running to her. Then they disappeared into the field across the road.