Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Orphan Summit tomorrow!!!

I'm so excited...tomorrow is the day! I wanted so badly to go to the Orphan Summit last year but as it happened, we had the fire so that took care of that. So this year, God so graciously brought the Summit to Minneapolis and made it easy for us to attend. Thanks God!

Thought I'd list our sessions by name and description so you can see why I'm so excited.

Giving Voice to the Orphan-Dr. Karyn Purvis Learn how to become a true advocate for orphans and foster youth. (this woman is amazing and has a gift for understanding kids who've come from 'hard places'. Check her videos out on YouTube if you have a child you're struggling to understand! She's the best I've ever come across!)

Orphan Permanency: How can we achieve it?- Examine one of the most important questions in global orphan care: what are truly 'permanent' solutions for children and how do we find them?

Best Practices of Church to Church Orphan Care Partnerships- Survey top examples and key principles for lasting relationships between U.S. and indigenous churches for effective, on the ground orphan care.

The Financial Challenge of Adoption and How the Local Church Can Respond-Get to know available resources and services that enable churches to help adoptive families to overcome the biggest barrier to adoption: money.

The Communications Stack: A Model of Creating and Maintaining an Effective Web Presence

The Church as an Alternative to the Foster System-Learn how to replicate a model that is currently turning the Illinois' State Foster System on its head...and transforming churches in the process.

There are so many choices and we couldn't sign up for them all but I will be buying some sessions on CD, that is for sure! There are over 1,000 people signed up for this event from all over the U.S. It makes my heart sing to know this and to see all these people, who all share the same heart for the orphan will just be amazing.

Hope to meet some friends who's blogs I follow. Can't wait!!!

Pray for the people who are speaking and attending that hearts would be motivated and lives would forever changed for the benefit of the orphan and for the kingdom.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Some pics of our spring break trip

Ok, I REALLY need to know how to fix whatever happened to my blogspot settings. It still won't let me post text after each picture. Oh well...

In the first picture (I hope) you see all of us, minus De at "Disney." For all of us to get into Disney World, it would have cost about $1000 for a DAY! Well, that was not going to happen but I did want the kids to "feel" like they went to Disney World so we visited the Disney Marketplace, which is just restaurants and shops that you can go to without paying to get into the park. The 2 little ones were thrilled! We spent 45 minutes there, looking at all the Disney merchandise in the stores. We even let Mihiretu and Misganaw pick out a toy, which was a Toy Story play set. Both picked the same thing! Then we bought huge suckers for all the kids (even bringing one home for Blake so he could "feel" like he'd been with us!) and we got out of "Disney World" for $40!! When we left, Mihiretu with all enthusiasm said, "THANKS, Mom and Dad, for taking us to Disney World!!" Misganaw agreed with him and we just said, "You are very welcome," and everyone left feeling satisfied. Someday I know we'll have to tell them they didn't actually go to Disney World, but it worked for now!

The next picture is of the us...the old people!

I wanted you to see a side by side picture of Aliya and Mihiretu. Now you can really see just how much they look alike!! That is why when we saw the picture of her, we all said, "She looks just like Mihiretu!!"

Aliya and her Dad...can I just say how much this girl LOVES her dad??? She is CRAZY about him and he adores her.

Then, finally the 3 youngest at Busch Gardens (I think)...a park we could afford!


Monday, April 19, 2010

Nicest neighbors

My sweet, lovely neighbor ladies organized a lunch date so they could welcome Aliya to the neighborhood on Saturday. We had a great time visiting and they all introduced themselves to her so when she's sees them in the neighborhood, they won't be strangers to her.

Now just how thoughtful is that? Especially in a day where we don't even know our next door neighbors name! There were 12 of us...12 on a beautiful, sunny Saturday. Of course there was food involved, so that always helps...and visiting, we love to do that! But more than that, there was a genuine desire to meet and know the new girl in the neighborhood and make her feel loved and welcome.

They bought her a hoodie with our local school team on it and a gift certificate to American Eagle, which incidentally she had spent by Saturday night!

I'm really sorry for everyone who doesn't live in my neighborhood! You can have really nice neighbors too, but probably they won't be as nice as mine. Sorry!!:-) I'll let you know when a home in our neighborhood comes up for sale.

She spent the evening at my moms house and they went to the Mall of America, shopped and had dinner there. This was her first sleepover and she loved every minute. Next time Grandma wants her for the WHOLE day, not just the evening. Just not enough time to do everything they wanted to do, like bake cookies.

On a different topic...don't laugh (especially you, Jill!) I need some help with keeping my schedule organized. What I do now is have a calendar on the wall and that's how I keep track of everything. Mostly it works. But on Saturday, I kind of forgot something important.

Mihiretu had dress rehearsal from 10-12 on Saturday morning for his choir concert which was on Sunday.

Here is what we did on Saturday:

Got up and made French toast. Cleaned that up.

Aliya had another hair appointment at 11:00.

Lunch with the neighbors at 1:15, which we were a little late for because of the hair appointment.

Come home, work on laying down fertilizer and grass seed (from the mess left from the fire...vehicles fixing the house)
Get done at 8:00.

Get Misganaw into bed. Mihiretu is having a sleep over with a friend.

Aahhhhh, climb into hot tub and uhhhh-ohhhhh. What did I forget? Dress rehearsal and also Mihiretu is supposed to be at church at 8:25 am to sing in the first service. Oh, boy!

I knew about it but just didn't write it down. Totally my fault!

I'm finding it hard to keep track of everyones stuff.

Does anyone have any good ideas? They really have to be easy for me. Nothing electronic, unless it is super easy. Nothing big to carry around in my purse.

I wish they sold extra memory for my brain like they do for computers.

Anyone?? Help!


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Aliya's wonderful transition

Before Aliya came home, I was really prepared for a challenge. I mean, how could she not be challenging...she's 14, she's changing cultures and everything she has ever known is changing, she is starting a new school with hard curriculum and all in English to boot, she must learn to live within a family-all of whom she doesn't know, she's losing all her friends...see what I mean? People always think, "She's gaining so much-a loving family, a warm bed, schooling" and all that is true but from her perspective, she's lost a great deal.

I expected a lot of crying, tantrums, sassiness, disrespect, hoarding food and her wanting to be alone in her room.

We were prepared for this.

I read about adoptive families having these challenges all the time, especially when they've adopted an older child. My heart breaks for them and when I read about them, I say a prayer for them to have the strength and stamina to persevere. These kids are worth it and deserving of parents who will go the extra mile (or a million miles in some case). I have so much respect for parents who are going through these difficult times with their kids.

That's why I stand in awe of Aliya. We expected all of these things, not because we're fatalists but because we're realists. But we haven't seen ANY of these things with her. And we can take NO credit for's all God. It's nothing we've done.

When I wake her up every morning for school, she is happy. She gets right up (even though she's not an early morning person) and comes down for breakfast. She gets dressed, brushes her teeth, I do her hair, hug her goodbye and Blaine drops her off at school. I pick her up from school and she always greets me with, "Hi Mom!" I ask her if she's had a good day and she always tells me, "Yes." Then she tells me about her day and we usually have some laughs and I find out how much homework she has for the night.

She always looks forward to Katie coming home from school! She loves her so much.

That's our days and our evenings vary but always include eating dinner together, working on her homework...if it's math, it's Dad, everything else is me.

She LOVES her dad. She doesn't hesitate hugging him. She loves him to laugh with her. She trusts him... I can see that.

Aliya has a great sense of humor and she's funny everyday.

Yesterday, when I picked her up from school she told me that she got her science test back and that she got 13 wrong out of 42, I think. I was shocked! I asked her if she did it all by herself. She said that she did.

"With NO help??"

"The teacher read it to me but didn't tell me the answers."

This test was on 'protists'. What the heck is that? I don't even know.

My 14 year old daughter, who only learned speaking English just over a year ago and has only been in America just over 8 weeks and who is in 7th grade got a 71% on her science test...all by herself. We didn't even study for it...I didn't know it was coming! How did she do this?? I saw the test. She did do it.

All I can say is she is incredibly observant and a great listener. She picked this all up in class!

She wasn't happy with this grade. At the Layla school (her orphanage school), she got "better grades than that!" That's her new word for now, "BETTER." She uses it all the time! When she says it, it sounds like, "Baaayder." Blaine teases her about that and she laughs and loves it!

Oh, my goodness...this girl! We reassured her that this was excellent and then I think she realized just what she'd accomplished. We are so proud of her!

I don't know why we've had such an easy transition with Aliya. Maybe God thinks we've already gone through enough challenges for now.

Please be encouraged if you are considering adopting an older child. I always say, "Be prepared for a challenging transition" but you don't necessarily have to expect it:)

I can honestly say that it seems like she's been with us forever (other than language issues). She is THE perfect fit for our family and having her join our family has been an absolute breeze. Piece of cake. One of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives.

And I think hers, too!


Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm looking for him!

Aliya was digging through the refrigerator, looking for something before dinner. I asked her, "What are you looking for?" She said, "I don't know...I don't know his name." So now my daughter is looking for a guy in the frig! She commonly refers to inanimate objects as 'him' when she means 'it' but it always cracks me up!

My thoughtful boys

We had a great weekend doing yardwork. The weather was perfect and the whole family worked together. We have lots to do since the fire in terms of yardwork. The heavy equipment tore up the grass and made a general mess of things. We put down mulch, cleaned up flower beds (still pieces of charred wood and broken glass around), made the boys a sandbox. Here the boys are helping Daddy on the 4 wheeler.

Blaine brought Mihiretu and Misganaw with him to Sam's Club the other day. My thoughtful and sweet son, Mihiretu saw the flowers there and said, "Dad, I want to buy flowers for Mom!" He gave me a big hug with the flowers...priceless.

Not to be outdone, Misganaw also spotted something that he just had to have for "Mommy". Yes, that's it...I was presented with this box of 100 suckers from Misganaw. It included a big hug. Also priceless.

My little Misganaw...always thinking of others!!


Friday, April 9, 2010

Experiencing God

Many years ago, I did a Bible study called, "Experiencing God." Actually, I did it twice. It was so good and really taught me a lot about how God works in our lives and how to recognize it when He does. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that many of you have been through this study, as well.

I don't have the book anymore (due to the fire) but I do remember what the first chapter says. It says (paraphrasing), "God is at work all around us. All we need to do is look around and see where He's moving and working, and then join Him in His work." That's how we can know we're doing His will.

If you are a Christian, desiring to follow God, please hear what I am about to say. God is working OVER TIME in Korah right now. If you are looking for a way to make an eternal difference for the Kingdom of God, look no further. It's right here before you!

You cannot believe how people are responding to the needs of these precious people. I am astounded as I lay awake at night, trying to figure it all out. (I know it's not meant for me to figure's just fun trying!) I am in awe, truly.

As far as I know December was the pivotal month for this change. An organization named Hopemonger's visited them and were moved as they saw the people living in the dump, scavenging for food. They provided a Christmas dinner of 4 goats and all the fixings for many, many people there who enjoyed it immensely. They have ways to help the people from Korah on their website.

Then the next month, a group including my new friend Sumer came there after visiting Katie ( in Uganda on a trip that also included a visit to Ethiopia. She really didn't have any desire to visit Ethiopia but the group was going there, so she sort of had to. They stayed at the wonderful Ethiopia Guest Home, met Sammy, visited Korah and the rest is history (not really history, more like future!). She and her husband are moving their 3 little boys there, now it looks like for a year to help transition some of the kids from the dump into a boarding school via the summer program beginning this June.

When we planned for Blake, Zach, Katie and De to go there, we didn't know anything about Sumer and her HUGE plans (God's plans, really). Now we do and wow, I'm blessed to know this woman. She and her family have heard God's voice and they are taking action, joining Him at the work He's already doing in Korah.

I spoke with her on the phone today and I hope I can relay this as clearly as it happened.

If you've never seen God work or heard His voice, let me give you a great example of how He sometimes does it.

I asked her about how she arrived at Korah in the first place and she was telling me the story.

The trip before she got to Korah was very emotional (as it would be, visiting orphanages) but when she arrived in Korah, it was a totally different feeling. She said she didn't cry at all but instead felt hopeful, and she was filled with the though, "I can help these people."

When she said these words, I was BLOWN away. Seriously!

Why, you ask?

Because I had said the EXACT, EXACT same words when I was there. I told Katie the very day we were there.

Here is an old post from this blog that relates how I felt:

The day we were to go to Korah, I woke up at 2am and God and I had a long conversation. I told Him that I knew we HAD to go see this place, but that I did not feel I had the strength to be broken anymore. He has broken me so much in this past year with the house fire and Blaine getting sick and paralyzed that I cried out to Him to spare me this. I just could not take it.

But you know what He did? Yes, it was a 'breaking' experience to see Korah but God issued me a challenge... a challenge to be an advocate and do something to change the way life is for these precious people. I was inspired and humbled, but not broken into little pieces all over the place as I have been before. I needed to be strong for my girls and God did give me that strength. Praise His holy name!

I didn't use Sumer's exact words here but I DID in Ethiopia.

Do you see?? God impressed this upon her while she was there and it was the EXACT same thing, down to the exact words we said.

Now THAT is God at work. No mistaking it.

You're going to hear a lot about Korah on this blog in months and years to come. Like I said before, God is moving in this place for a great purpose.

We're joining Him...sign us up...we're sold out!

There are so many opportunities to help...pray, go there and help, donate money, sponsor a child there, become a friend with Samuel Liben on Facebook.

Join Him. This is a great opportunity! Don't miss it.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

How Aliya is doing after being home 8 weeks

When I would read people's blogs, especially people who adopted an older child, I was dying to hear how the child was doing at home and school, practically speaking. I wanted details and examples because I wanted to imagine how it *might* be for us. Good to be prepared, I thought!

So, I know lots of you are wondering just how Aliya is doing. She is still doing well and fitting in with all of us well. Her English is improving rapidly and the fact that she likes to be heard and isn't afraid to try (at least at home) helps her immensely with this growth.

When we were home about 3 weeks, she went with me to pick up Mihiretu up from church. (I'm hoping I haven't already shared this!) This is the conversation we had in the car on the way there.

Aliya: "Mom, why I no see in Etopia?"

Me: "What did you say??"

Aliya: "Mom, why I no see pointing at her legs) Etopia?"

Me: (Thinking about what this could possibly mean.)

Aliya: "Mom, did you HEAR (roll the r) me??!!"

We laughed pretty hard at this point:)

I finally figured out that what she meant is, "Why do I not see people walking like I saw in Ethiopia?"

Ahhhhhh, I get it! She didn't know the word, "walk."

Now, 5 weeks later she has improved so much. At home, she is very confident and not at all afraid to speak...which she does a LOT!

She just came up to me and said, "Mom, is Katie REALLY going to Etiopia?"

Me: "Yes, I just bought the tickets for the kids."

Aliya: "Mom, are you SERIOUS? I don't believe you. I'm going to go ask her."

She knows I'm serious but this is just her sense of humor at work!

Aliya: "Katie, why you going to Etopia? You CAN'T go! Who is going to pick out my clothes when you gone?"

See the improvement??

She, on the other hand, is afraid to talk at school. She told me that the girls that she sits with at lunch talk to her but when she talks to them, they think she's speaking Amharic! She does have a very strong accent but I don't think she is that hard to understand:)

In class, I think the teachers think she can do and understand more than she can. I know they want her to try and I do, too. But she absolutely cannot compose a poem...her grasp of the English language is just not there yet. She has a difficult time with short sentences. When she brings home as assignment to compose a poem, I try to explain what is expected in the poem and then I try to get her to give me an idea for the poem. Mostly, I write it...put it together with her ideas. She can't do this on her own yet.

She is a very bright girl and I tried to get her to realize today just how far she's come in the past 8 weeks. I reminded her that in the past 8 weeks she's learned how to be in a family, eat different food, go to a different school, live in a completely different culture, and on and on it goes. All this on top of what she's learning in! It's a lot. She needed to be reminded about how far she's come.

When you remember that she's a 14 year old girl going through all of these changes, it's even harder to believe she's holding it all together and not having major breakdowns.

Plain and simple...we are blessed beyond belief!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Music for Korah website ready!

This is the video, which is on the website. The website address is

All of this video Katie and I took when we were there. You don't know how much watching it makes us want to go back!

If you go to the website or to youtube and look under "music for korah" the video will be much better and centered. Don't know why it's not centered on my blog. But you can get a look anyway!



Monday, April 5, 2010

Korah-Getting excited!

Some of you are probably wondering what is going on with Korah. Well, let me tell you..LOTS!!

Blake and Zach have put in many hours getting a video made for the website that a friend is building for them. The video is now done and it's such a blessing to watch it! I will post it here very soon.

God is moving in Korah, I mean REALLY moving. We've all learned along the way (and if you haven't yet, you will) that God's timing is perfect and that in the fullness of His time, things happen. I can't tell you why for so many decades, Korah was ignored and forgotten. But it seems in the past few months, God has said, "Take notice of my beloved people in Korah" because people are!

I have gotten acquainted with Sumer, who is from Nashville. She visited Korah in a month or two before we did in February. There she saw the horrible poverty of the children who live in the dump and she was moved by God to act. Since then (hopefully I can get this all correct) she has made her church aware that for $650 per year sponsorship, they can get a child out of the dump and into a wonderful boarding school. Praise God that the people of her church had eyes open so that they could see these children as Christ sees them...with compassion and love. I believe they have sponsored about 100 kids!

Sumer, her husband (a teacher) and their 3 boys are spending the summer in Korah and now it looks like it may be significantly longer to prepare the children to transition from the dump to a boarding school. They need to learn things like how to hold a pencil and other things. They are running a summer camp at Korah for the kids who are sponsored. Sweet Sammy, however had bigger plans and opened up the summer camp (VBS) up to 760 kids, not just the sponsored kids but other kids from the church as well! Gotta love this guy with big dreams! Several people from Sumer's church have volunteered some time this summer to help them run this program in Korah, all without being asked I might add!

This brings me to my lovely daughter, Katie and her wonderful boyfriend, De who have also said, "We're going, too!" So they will be joining Blake and Zach during the time they are there. They'll all work with the kids in the morning then the boys will work with the church leaders in the afternoons to teach them guitar.

This leads me to a wonderful surprise. Katie and De have spoken to a couple of their high school teachers about Korah and what they're doing this summer. Today, Katie was approached by a teacher and asked if she and De would like to be interviewed in a video about their summer plans! They also want our whole family in the video regarding our adoptions. This will be shown in school and every student will see it, as well as the staff. Their high school has over 1,600 students! This teacher also said that he'd see what he could do about helping them with fundraising! The kids are so excited about this. How wonderful to have a school that supports their students like this. We're all totally blown away by this response by a public school. Humbling.

So as soon as Blake and Zach's website is up, you'll be the FIRST to know.

Praising God for His amazing faithulness,

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thank you, Jesus

Thank you that we weren't awoken by smoke alarms last night.

Thank you that my children slept soundly in their beds and woke up to their home standing intact all around them.

Thank you for the smoke free smell of our home.

Thank you for the peace and quiet of this house this morning.

Thank you that we get to spend Easter here tomorrow, celebrating Your resurrection!!!

Thank you for a carpet to vacuum.

Thank you for shelves and tables to be able to dust.

Thank you for an oven to prepare Easter dinner.

Thank you for bringing us through the past year and for never, ever leaving us.

Thank you for not letting us be consumed by fear.

Thank you for the addition of a new daughter since this time last year.

Thank you for hearing my prayer for safety last night.

We are so grateful and love you so much.


Some of you might have realized that it was one year ago in the wee hours of this morning that our house burned down. Oh, what God has brought us through durning this past year!!

I am truly and overwhelmingly thankful for a carpet that needs vacuuming and shelves that need dusting today. I'm thrilled to have laundry to do today. It's all to fresh in my mind how it feels not to have any of these things.

But ultimately "things" are not what matter. Through all of our struggles, the Lord went along side us and sometimes before us and helped us and gave us success in whatever the challenge of the day happened to be. He comforted and encouraged us.

He blessed us with a beautiful, wonderful new daughter and a deeper faith in Him. Our family is closer than ever and we've all grown in more ways than I can recall.

So thank you, Jesus. For everything!


Friday, April 2, 2010

The pics you're waiting to see!

Sorry but I once again can't write after each blogspot must be messed up:(

But since a picture is worth a thousand words, I don't have to say much!

Are these sweet or what? Anaya left the orphanage in August of last year and the girls haven't seen each other in person since then. They are best friends and almost like sisters. Anaya was in shock when she answered the door and saw Aliya. She stood in absolute silence, just staring at her. Then the hugs began and in a matter of seconds they ran off and we didn't see them again until we just before we left for dinner. It was such a special time for they will never forget. I'll share more later.

But since a picture is worth a thousand words, I don't have to say much!

The picture of the girls by the pool is one of my favorites. We bought that scarf that says, "Ethiopia" when we were there. She loved it and really wanted it for her room. When she was packing, she brought it to me and asked if she could give it to Anaya. I thought that was so sweet for her to give it away.

The pictures of all of us on the air boat (in the Everglades) is funny. It looked like the rain had cleared up but as you can see, we got totally dumped on right in the middle of the ride and we got SOAKED to the bone! Great memories. It was chilly after the rain as you can see. Aliya wanted to show you just how chilly it was!

We had a wonderful time together as a family. I'll share more in the coming days!

Many blessings,