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

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

You Are Invited!

What: Join us for a pancake and sausage breakfast...a great way to start your day with a fulfilling breakfast and a good time to fellowship with friends and family.

When: February 1, from 8 am to noon

Menu: Regular, blueberry, and chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, orange juice, coffee, and water

Why: To help Kelsi and Tiffany raise the last of the funds needed for their Bookin' It to Ethiopia project through All God's Children International. These funds will be used to build a library and fill it with books in Mekele, Ethiopia. Whatever money exceeds the current library budget will be used to pay air travel expenses for the mission trip.

Where: Paulding Extension Building
503 Fairground Dr.
Paulding, OH 45879

Cost: Free-will donation

Come out and support a great cause!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Because She Says It Better Than I Could...

Sometimes, we as adoptive mommas have to hear some difficult comments from others. And I always try to extend grace and mercy because I know that I've said some pretty stupid and insensitive things in my past. However, I love this post that my sister wrote, over at It is so beautiful, and I couldn't agree more.

"They're So Lucky" and Other Fallacies

This post has been on my heart for some time. People say some frustrating things to adoptive families, and while I understand that many times they don't mean exactly what we hear, sometimes they make us pause and think about lecturing on poverty and orphan issues and scripture. Most of the time I am able to give some grace and avoid the harsh words that well up inside of me, but I'm going to take a moment and address a few of my personal trigger points.

* "They're so lucky!" said with beaming smiles directed at my boys, usually after someone finds out that they were originally from Ethiopia. Right, because now they're part of a middle-class family in the "promised land" of America, rather than living a VERY hard hand-to-mouth existence in a third-world country. I get what they're saying. Yet somehow that statement negates the horror and the pain and the trauma that my children have experienced. Let's say that you know a family where one of the parents dies suddenly while the children are very young. Would you EVER look at the remaining members of the family and comment, "You're so lucky!"?? Probably not....because you can see the hard place that they're walking through, and commenting on the fact that at least they're still living would seem incredibly insensitive. My boys lost a very young age. They lost the only family members they had ever known, their beautiful country, their language and their cultural heritage. Sure we try to keep some of this alive for them, but the losses are real, and heart-wrenching, and painful. Both of my boys fondly remember very loving mothers, and their hearts know that just because they've been provided with another family and all of the trappings of a life in America, the pain of that loss doesn't go away. They've endured hardship that no child should ever have to face, and to call that "lucky" just feels so wrong to me.

*"You were always God's Plan A for them!" Just. Don't. This is simply not true. Adoption is a beautiful thing, and I'm so incredibly thankful for it, but adoption only exists because we live in a broken world. It was never God's first plan in any sense of the word. God's original plan is that every child would be born to a loving family that could afford to feed them and care for them. God's Plan A was the Garden of Eden, but we messed that up a long time ago. In fact, sin ruined everything, and it is only because of sin that adoption is necessary. God's mighty hand involved? Absolutely! I see adoption as His redemption of a hard situation. It's similar to salvation in so many ways, and one of those ways is the fact that neither adoption nor salvation would exist in a perfect world. In a perfect world, we wouldn't have disobeyed God in the first place, and salvation wouldn't have happened because God never would've had to sacrifice His only son on our behalf. Adoption wouldn't be necessary either, because no family would be experiencing poverty or disease or the heartache of broken or sinful relationships. God did not make a mistake and accidentally cause my children to be born to women on the other side of the world, all the while intending them for me. They ARE my children today, but they are also the children of beautiful Ethiopian women, and I will not cheapen the pain of the loss of those first mothers by saying that Yikealo and Sintayehu were "always" meant to be with us.

*"Now, do you have any children of your own?" Yes, we do....two of them....and their names are Yikealo and Sintayehu. I realize that what you meant to ask was if we have "biological" children, but please do not refer to MY children as if they are not MY OWN. Because they much as if I had carried them inside my own body. I am the one who teaches them, who feeds them, who gets up with them in the night when they've had a bad dream, who spends every day loving them and caring for them. I would give my life for them. I am their mother, and the fact that they each have another woman that they also refer to as "Mommy" does not lessen our relationship. You see, adoption counts. If it didn't, then we would have no hope of Heaven. God is our ADOPTIVE Father, and He refers to us as His children. It is because of adoption that we are allowed to call Him "Abba" (Daddy or Papa). If adoption was a lesser relationship, then why in the world would God have sent His ONLY BEGOTTEN SON to rescue the rest of us? How could we refer to Jesus as our Brother? Adoption makes a family....a real, completely valid family.

*"I just don't think I could ever love an adopted child as much as I love my own kids." Ummmm....yeah. So, you're saying that you're incapable of loving someone that you didn't carry inside your womb? What about your parents? Siblings? Grandparents? Oh, maybe you're saying that you can't really love anyone who is not related to you by blood? So, what exactly does that mean for your spouse? Or what about the close friends with whom you share everything? Are you honestly trying to start a "I love my kids more than you love yours" argument? Why would you say something like that? Granted, I can't really comment on how it feels to love a biological child, but sometimes when I look at my boys I feel like my heart is going to explode from being too full. I can't imagine my life without them, and I will do anything to let them know how much I love them. Since I firmly believe that all true love comes from God anyway, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is able to create the deepest feelings of devotion between a parent and a child, no matter how their family was formed. Remember, adoption counts.

*"So the women over there must not love their children that much, huh?" SERIOUSLY?? To make things even worse, variations of this question have been asked IN FRONT OF my kids! Are you kidding me? How dare you sit in your ivory-tower-existence and make judgements about how much someone loves her child just because she chooses an adoption plan! She is living a life that you can't even imagine. She grieves her losses every single day, and oh yeah....she's also got a debilitating disease, or she's lost the husband that she dearly loved to a horrific accident, and she's got no education and has very few job prospects. I thank God that we've been able to have contact with both of our boys' birth mothers, and the first thing that they want their children to know is how much they are loved.

Almost two year ago, when we were in Ethiopia for Sintayehu's court case, we met with a man who had just interviewed Yikealo's birth mom. We had just left Sintayehu at Hannah's Hope earlier that day, and had no idea when we'd be able to return for him. I was grieving at the thought of not seeing my son for several months, and all of a sudden we were looking at photos of Yikealo's first mother, who hadn't seen her son in 3 years. We learned some hard things about how difficult her life is, and that night was probably the most emotionally overwhelming of my life so far. Later on the plane, I remember sobbing....for hours....while paging through photograph after photograph. I started listening to music, and the first song that played summed my feeling up so well.

"Why this happened I cannot explain,
Why write the script with such heartache and pain?
Could there not have been an easier way?
Watching life through this glass so faded,
I cannot see the bigger picture taking place....
Oh to understand one day!

And my heart will fly
When I finally see You face to face
And my tears will fly away, away.

Won't be long 'til we all go home
With all things revealed,
And on that day we'll finally know,
Oh, as we are fully known.

And what appears as incomplete,
Is still completely Yours,
And one day we'll see as we've been seen, and we'll soar.
(Mercy Me)

I will probably never hear that song again without crying. It's so true. The script of my boys' lives has been written with unimaginable heartache and pain, but also with unimaginable beauty. They are deeply, deeply loved....each of them by two different families in two different countries.

A few weeks ago, the boys and I were doing some shopping when Sintayehu spotted this figurine. He pointed excitedly and said, "Look! It's me and my Mommy Alem!! Mom, PLEASE get it for me? Please??" How could I resist that? She now sits on our bookcase between the photos of the boys with their beloved first mamas. On the hard days, when Sintay's been fussy and frustrating and acting out, I will often find him sitting down in a chair, clutching her to him and petting her softly with that far-away look in his eyes. We talk about Mommy Alem, and how much she loves him, and how much we love him too. I tell him that I'm so sorry that he lost his first mama, but that I'm so glad that I get the chance to be his mama too. I tell him that it's okay to be sad, it's okay to be angry, and it's okay to cry. Having a new family doesn't erase the pain, but hopefully we are giving him a safe, loving place to express it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Angels Are Rejoicing!

"...there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." Luke 15:10

I am a single parent this week as Chris is in NYC on business, so things have been crazy busy! I wanted to sign on quickly to share our wonderful news, though. Shana decided on Sunday night to surrender her life to Christ!! And the very next day, her best friend Heather made the same life-changing decision. As the Bible states, "...all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). But if we "confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). So God "commandeth all men everywhere to repent..." (Acts 17:30), and tells us that He is a "rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6). We are so thankful that Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross, shed His blood as a ransom for us all, and rose from the dead so that we all can have this amazing opportunity for justification.

We are so humbled that these girls have accepted God's wonderful gift of salvation, and we pray that God would be near them and richly bless them as they begin their lifetime journey of following Him.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bookin' It To Ethiopia Update

I am so proud of local high school seniors Kelsi Manz and Tiffany Spangler! They are only $1291 away from their goal of raising the $26,500 needed to build a library and fill it with books in Mekele, Ethiopia! Can you prayerfully consider donating to this very worthy cause and help them finish the project? As soon as the funding is complete (they're 95% of the way there!), building will commence! We will be traveling to Ethiopia this spring with a mission team to put the finishing touches on the library and hand the keys over to the community. Because of these girls' efforts, children who have learned with very limited resources will have the whole world opened to them for many years to come. To those of you who have already donated, THANK YOU!!! Many families will be blessed because of your generosity. And to Kelsi and Tiffany...congratulations! You have done an amazing job and I'm looking so forward to our trip! 

Here is the link for their webpage, which will explain the project:

And here is the link for the donation page:

Thanks, everyone, and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

To All the Moms In the New Year

When I was younger, back before I had kids, I thought that I would have life figured out by the time I reached my 30's. Well, the 30's have been here for awhile, parenthood has happened, and the idea of having it all together? It's out the window. The ability to even FEEL like I'm put together? It's gone.

But I've figured something out about myself. See, I always compare myself to other people, and as the Bible states, this is not wise. I know that some people only dream of the things I have, but it's easy to forget sometimes. One of my friends dresses her children in color-coordinating outfits all the time, and her entire family always looks as if they're about to get their picture taken. Professionally. Nothing against her, but who has time for that? Other friends always show up to church on time on Sunday mornings with perfect-looking, well-behaved children, while I arrive late, feeling like I just wrestled 6 alligators in the mud. I didn't even notice that one of my children has socks on that don't match his outfit, another one did not get his hair combed, and who knows if they all got their teeth brushed? They've been fighting all morning, and one of the lovable little angels has just thrown a fit and informed me that I am the worst parent ever. And you know what? I feel like the worst parent ever. The last year has been stressful, I've taken it out on my kids, everything is out of sync, and I feel old, useless, and worn-out. Like my time is past. Like I don't measure up. My hair is gray and I've just noticed how pronounced my crow's feet are becoming. Having it all put together in my 30's? Nah. Ain't gonna happen.

Does anyone else ever feel this way? Do you know what? God is a parent, too. He knows how you feel. His children always show up late and messy. When He could feel embarrassed, He loves us anyway. He's had countless children fight, argue with Him, and basically tell Him that He's the worst parent ever. But He remains calm and loves us through it. And He knows you're needed. He has a special purpose for you. Just think about how important the job of raising up the next generation really is. Where would our kids be without us? Where would we be without our Father?

The new year lies out before us...a fresh and perfectly clean slate. And His mercies are new, just like they are each morning. So get out there and make your mark on this new year like snow angels in freshly fallen snow. And when things start to look grayish-brown and melty and mistakes are made, remember.....the best Parent of all time has got your back. You do make a difference. And someday, when everything is revealed, you'll be amazed at the impact you've made in the lives around you.

"Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth The Lord, she shall be praised." Proverbs 31:30.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Blizzard of 2014

Things are finally warming up a bit. Today, temperatures are 65-70 degrees warmer than they were last week at this time......crazy!!! We endured wind chill temps of -45, so today's 45 degrees makes it feel like spring! But the kids enjoyed their extra time off of school, and ended up having a 3 week Christmas vacation. Chris's workplace canceled for a couple of days, too, and since the roads were impassable, we spent several days playing games, etc. by the fire. Here are a few photos of all our snow!

This humongous drift formed in front of our shed, so the kids hollowed it out into a fort. 

I think these guys were a little tired of being cooped up when they raided Shana's stash of rainbow bands to make bracelets for Malia's American Girl dolls. Or maybe they got brainwashed from being forced to play "house" too much. ;)

I'm ready for about you?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Out With the Old, In With the New

Happy New Year, everyone!

On New Year's Eve day, Chris decided to change out both of our furnaces (you'll have that when your husband works for a geothermal heating company and wants to try out new prototype units). So we didn't make plans for the evening. Instead, we played games, snuggled by the fire, read stories, and even participated in a New Year's Eve Ball Drop right in our living room! Adrian secretly planned the whole thing: he covered a basketball with aluminum foil, turned out the lights, had spotlights directed on the ball (which he placed on top of a ladder), and began the countdown, moving the ball lower as he went. At midnight, the ball hit the floor and the cheering began. Here's to a brand new, fresh and clean year! I'm so thankful that God's mercies are new with each passing year, just as they are every morning.