Monday, May 24, 2010

Garage sale successs

Well, it's all done. The kids garage sale fundraiser raised somewhere between $1500-$1600!! We had some bad weather issues at times but overall it was wonderful and despite the rain, people still came and shopped.

The kids did a great job running things. Blake had a blast using his Spanish to communicate with some of the shoppers. It really came in handy since many didn't speak a word of English!

I believe the kids have about $5000 more to raise for their trip. The Lord has been providing and I know He will continue to provide for them. They leave in 3 weeks!!! I can hardly believe how fast this is coming up.

Thanks for your support and prayers! Thanks for stopping by at the sale and encouraging the kids!


Friday, May 21, 2010

She gave it all

The garage sale is going well. One more day and then it's over. So far, the kids have raised about $1400, hoping and praying for a big day tomorrow.

People have been really nice after seeing the signs with the pictures of Korah. Some even rounded their total up, some by $25 to help the kids with their trip! How nice is that? Then there was the guy who wanted a sterling silver pitcher for "half a dollar" because it had a small dent in it. Um, no. He then bought a clock for $3 and a beautiful grilling spatula which was marked $.75. He wanted them both for $3. Some people you can't win with:) But when a woman asked if the total for all her many items could be just $10, Zach wisely told her that they were raising money for a mission trip and she promptly went 'shopping' for a second time and bought double what she had picked up originally, at full price! OK, now we're talking!

I have to share a precious story that happened yesterday. Aliya came to me with her wallet, opened it up and took everything out of it saying, "I want to give this to Katie...for Korah."

I said, "Aliya, you don't have to give her ALL of your money, maybe just some would be fine."

She said, "No, I want. ALL for Korah."

With the 2 pennies I found in my wallet, she gave Katie a total of $16. Everything she had. Everything penny.

I had tears in my eyes and hugged her and told her what a kind and generous girl she was.

This is a girl who has never had ANYTHING in her life to call her own. No money, certainly. Wouldn't you think she would hang on to it with all her might? We always hear that kids in orphanages tend to hoard things because they've gone without for so long and they are afraid that they might have to go without again.

But my daughter, who has only been home in a secure home and family for 3 months gave it all. Maybe she trusts us enough to know that there is more. Maybe she just trusts God and is being obedient. She does have a BIG, compassionate heart. She cares about the people of Korah so much and her heart was so impacted for them and their terrible plight that she was willing to really sacrifice for them. What she understands is that here at home, there is enough. But in Korah, there is NOT more and there is NOT near enough and without divine intervention, there will never be.

She willingly and joyfully gave to a group of people who she probably will never see again. Why should she care? She has her family in America. She's safe, loved and has her needs met. Why would she care about a group of people on the other side of the world?

Why should we care? Why should you care?

Let's face it...we cannot ALL be go-ers. We have families, jobs, mortgages, whatever. What we all can do is be givers. Givers to the go-ers. We can support them in prayer as they go.

The kids are now about half way there to their goal of $12,000. This money is for airfare and the stay at the guest house there. They leave in 3 weeks. They have to raise $6000 more and really need your prayers and financial support.

Friends, much are you willing to sacrifice?

Aliya has taught me so much and I'm learning from her every day.

Please visit the kids' website and pray about what role the Lord would have you play in helping them 'go.' Visit the site and drop them an encouraging note (via email) and tell them you'll commit to pray for them. I know it would bless them immensely.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fundraising garage sale for Korah tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day! If you could only see my garage!! We're so thankful for EVERYONE who donated items to the kids' garage sale. I knew that a garage sale was a great way to raise funds but as you know, after the fire we had nothing to contribute. But our friends and family did:) Actually, I do have 2 things out there...2 out of a million!

Katie made these beautiful posters to display at the sale. I think it's important for people to see pictures and understand where the money is going. I also think it's important to show people that there are teenagers who care about others to the point of investing time, money and resources in order to serve the people of Korah and partner with them to help make their community a better place.

I'm hoping and praying for $1000 to be raised by this sale. The kids are now up to $5000, almost half-way to their needed $12,000 for airfare and guest house stay fees. Time is running short, since they are leaving in about 4 weeks. So hopefully people will be generous and even make some donations!

If you haven't checked out the website yet, please do. The video is so good and there are more pictures. Katie and I took them when we were there in Feb. It is

The kids are excited and ready to dive headfirst into the great unknown of the leper colony called Korah. Katie had been there so it's not unknown to her but it is to the other 3, especially Zach who hasn't yet been to a developing country. I'm humbled by their willingness to serve God this way. I just found out Zach has a $600 bill from the travel clinic for his necessary vaccinations! Ouch! De will have them, too. B and K are completely loaded from our first trip, and I mean loaded!

I'm learning a lot from these kids who really have a small income (trust me, I have 3 of their tax forms in front of me) and yet are willing to give so much of what they have. It's humbling to me.

I know it seems like a silly thing to pray for but please pray for their garage sale, that it would be encouraging to the kids in terms of peoples willingness to give to help them reach their goal. Pray for a huge turnout and all that stuff in my garage would get sold:)

I'll let you know how it goes.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Aliya home 3 months

Yep, it's true. Aliya has been home 3 months now. We just had our 3 month post placement visit with our social worker and she asked us the typical questions: How is she fitting into your family? Does she call you Mom and Dad? How have you handled discipline her? What problems have you encountered? Any medical problems come up? And on and on.

It's actually difficult to find the words to answer these questions. It goes something like this: She has done GREAT! She fits in perfectly to our family. She hasn't experienced any grief that we have seen at all. She called us Mom and Dad from the second she met us, actually before she met us. Haven't had any reason to discipline her, seriously. Ok, except a couple times I told her she really should go to bed since it was 9:30 and she delayed a little bit and I had to tell her, "Aliya, Mommy said you better go to bed now." To this she replys, "Ok, Mom" and she hugs both of us and goes off to bed. That's it! We've had no problems.

What more can I say?? We've had no problems so there is simply nothing to say. Thank GOD for that! We are truly thankful for the easy and seamless transition we've had with Aliya and she's had with us.

I've had people say to me, "I'd adopt an older child if I KNEW I'd get an easy one like her."

Wow, how do you respond to that one? You never, even know how life will be with your child...biological or adopted. It's a faith walk every day. Fear keeps people away from doing things that are right. How sad. What a waste.

Personally I want to encourage people to adopt, especially the child who is waiting for whatever reason: age, medical condition, sibling set. We are not the only family who's adopted an older child and had a wonderful experience! I know of many!

Friday she had a special event at her middle school called "The Mighty Mile" where students raise support for new technology at the school and on Friday they run the mile. Aliya does NOT like to run. So when she came downstairs after getting dressed, she was wearing jeans. I asker her how she was going to run in jeans. She said her teacher said she could walk.

I said, "Ok, but are you really going to walk in those flip flops that you are wearing?"

I asked her if she knew what the word "stubborn" meant. She didn't so I explained it this way.

She knows what a donkey and a horse are so I told her if you put them together and they have a baby, they make a mule who, if you try to make it move, it is very stubborn and puts its' feet down and won't move. Sometimes it even sits down like a dog when you try to make it do what it doesn't want to do. "That is you sometimes...stubborn," I said with a smile.

She smiled and said, "Yes, that is GOOD!"

She took it as a complement! I love it:) I guess when you've had to be a survivor, being stubborn is indeed a positive trait.

When I picked her up from school that day, she told me that she was not allowed to walk the mile since she had flip flops on. I asked her how she felt about that.

I got the answer I hoped for.

"I felt a little sad because it looked like so much fun."

I said, "Maybe next year you will want to do it?"

"Yes, I will. And it will decor (decorate) a shirt like the other kids did."

Bingo, lesson learned. We have learned not make a big deal about things that don't really matter. Most of the time, it pays off and they learn on their own. We could have made her wear sweats and tennis shoes, but that would have done nothing to strengthen our relationship. We try to remember the big picture.

We love Aliya. She had been hand picked by God from the beginning of time to be in our family. I don't pretend to know His ways or understand why things work out the way they do. We just walk every day in faith that God does know and He has a plan.

I don't know why she had to undergo such loss and pain in her short life. I don't understand how she can be so resilient. But God in His grace and mercy chose for her to be ours and for that I know I can honestly say, we all are blessed beyond our wildest imaginations!


Friday, May 14, 2010

My baby is 4!

This is all of us except De, who had to work. Rene joined us for Mother's Day and we squeezed a little birthday party in for my new 4 year old, Misganaw!

I have been lamenting my little one turning 4. Truthfully, I love 3...there is so much sweetness wrapped up in a 3 year old. I know all ages are wonderful but there is a pinch of sadness when your baby turns 4.

Well, I felt that way until we went on his birthday to Trader Joe's. I had asked an employee if he could help me find the maple leaf cookies (do you know the ones I'm talking about??) and he showed me. I turned around to pick them up and I hear Misganaw say to the guy, "Hey, you know what?"

He says, "What?"

Misganaw, loudly and excitedly says, "I ALWAYS poop REALLY BIG POOPS!!!!"

I slowly turn around and ask, "Did he really just say what I think he said?"

He shakes his head, "Yes."

The guy gives Misganaw a high five and I'm left wondering how many other people in this crowded store heard that.

The guy comes back a couple minutes later with some stickers, saying, "Maybe these will keep him busy."

I say, "Maybe I should put one over his mouth and maybe it would keep him quiet!"

We both laughed and I informed Misganaw that there are things we don't share with just anyone! Good thing I'm a seasoned mom!

This little encounter actually made me think, "4 is looking better to me right now!"

Misganaw and Woody.

Mihiretu made me this pinch pot for Mother's Day!

Blaine and I bought Aliya a beautiful Bible for her dedication. She has one in Amharic but this one is in English.

Aliya received these angels for her dedication from her grandma's. The funny thing is that neither one knew the other was getting an angel for her. They also BOTH bought her a picture frame. Weird, huh?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Aliya's dedication on Mother's Day

On Mother's Day, we were part of a service of dedication for Aliya at church. Even though Aliya is 14, we didn't want her to miss out on this special event of dedicating her to God and promising to raise her to know Him better. It's a service of commitment. She was so nervous to have to stand in front of the entire church. She told us many time, "I don't want!" I assured her all she had to so was 'stand there'.

We went out and bought my tomboy a cute dress, which she approved of and actually wanted. She really fits well into this family of non-dress loving females:) She looked so pretty.

She said to me, "Even though I don't want to do the dedication, I will do it because it is Mother's Day and you are my mother and I will do it for you." How sweet is that?

She was really brave until on the way to church, Blaine just had to tell her that she had to sing a song and pray in Amharic! This caused her to panic and she said, "TAKE ME HOME! I am NOT going!"

I assured her again that I would never lie to her and that what I told her was the truth. Nothing had changed except her dad was even crazier than she thought!

It was a special day and we had a lunch for her with the family in attendance.

I received so many bouquets of flowers for Mother's Day that I could open a flower shop right about now! Even Rene was able to make it. They really were beautiful and special.

Hope all you mom's had a special Mother's Day!


Friday, May 7, 2010

Pour our your life for the fatherless.

I'd like to share one last thing (big thing) that I learned at the Orphan Summit VI last weekend.

I for one, LOVE to be taught something from the Bible that I'd never seen before. This was the case when John Piper shared his message to us on the last night of the Summit.

He asked us, "What does it look like to live by faith? Or to build and orphanage by faith or adopt by faith?"

Let's face it...when we adopt or participate in orphan care in a big way, we do it "by faith." It's sort of like climbing up the high diving board at the pool, being afraid of heights but jumping anyway. You know you won't die, but it IS scary. You are trusting "by faith" that the diving board won't break when you get up there and that the water will cushion your fall. Maybe a bad analogy, but you get the point. It's "by faith."

When a family begins an adoption, there are many things to consider.

-How old will the child be?
-Boy or girl?
-What medical conditions will we consider?
-How will we pay for this?
-How will this child effect our family?
-What from this childs past will they bring with them?
-How will we handle these things?

The list is really endless. But there is a level of faith that we must possess to proceed into this land of the unknown.

This brings me to Piper's message. It's from Hebrews 11:29-38. I'm giving you the condensed version of this message so I hope it makes sense!

It's long but I have to include the entire passage. Don't skip over any of it even if you've read it 100 times. You'll miss it!

"29By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land: but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. 30By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the people had marched around them for seven days. 31By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. 32And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-38the world was not worthy of them."

Did you catch it??

Here are the points Piper made. (Hope I do them justice)

1. Through our faith, God works miracles and works of providence when we start adopting and caring for orphans.

2. Not always #1.
-Sometimes He sustains you through horrific suffering. Having faith is no guarantee for an easy life or an easy adoption.

-Look at verse 35. There is not even a break in the sequence in this verse. But you can see it goes from God working miracles to people suffering. What it doesn't say is, "By faith, all these people had an easy time because of their incredible faith. By the lack of faith of these others, they suffered, were tortured, put in prison, etc." There is no break at all. I had NEVER noticed this before!

Some escape, some die but all by faith.

Verse 39 indicates that suffering people have gained approval through their faith.

3. Having faith, therefore is not the ultimate determining factor in whether you suffer of have joy in the cause of the fatherless. No matter how it turns out, my God is on my side.

4. God is better than what I lose here and gain there. (Ponder that for a few hours)

5. Those who love God more than life (or a successful adoption or orphan ministry) and suffer willingly in service of the fatherless are God's great gift for the world.

Pour out your life for the fatherless, NO MATTER WHAT!

If you've followed my blog, you can probably see why this message resonated so clearly with me. I felt like this message was spoken just for me, although I know so many people have struggled through adoptions.

While he was speaking, God brought this to my mind. Do you remember when we were working on our home study for Aliya and Blaine was lying in a hospital bed, paralyzed from the chest down? The doctor had told him the day before that he didn't think he'd walk again. This day, however another doctor came in and told him they had a new diagnosis and he indeed would walk again but he'd be in the hospital for weeks and weeks and it would be many months before he'd walk.

After he left the room, Blaine looked at me and said, "Call the adoption agency and tell them that we will be set back about 2-3 weeks but we are not giving up this child."

I said to him, "Did you just hear what the doctor said? Wow, that takes a lot of faith, Blaine."

He said, "What more can Satan do to me? I will walk out of here in 8 days."

God showed me that when Blaine said to go ahead with the adoption, it was totally and completely BY FAITH. Somehow the Lord had told him to proceed because he said it with 100% confidence in the fact that it would be. And it was...He did walk out of there just as he said he'd do. And it was NOT by any power of Blaine' was God. It was a real MIRACLE that God did on behalf of one of the fatherless, whom He loves so much...our daughter, Aliya.

Yes, God has done miracles and works of providence in our lives and during our adoptions. We've seen it. We've lived it. It's true!

I will never look at Hebrews 11 the same again, ever. Hope it blesses you as much as it blesses me.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A few things I learned at the Orphan Summit

I'm finally getting a chance to write down some of the many things I took away from the Orphan Summit last weekend.

I believe it was Doug Sauder, author of, "The One Factor" who said that the orphan crisis is obviously a problem that won't be solved in a day. We must have patience but also we must have an urgency in getting there. Proverbs 31:8-9 says, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."

If we are only motivated by the need, we will soon run out of gas. I've heard many Christians say they are adopting because God commands it..."take care of the orphans and widows"...among many other verses. I've also heard Christians say they hate when people use that reason for adoption. For years, I've tried to understand this. Obviously, it is a command of God and we are to obey His commands, right? The conclusion I've come to is some believe using this command as their primary reason to adopt is condescending to the child...sort of a 'rescue mentality' which offends them.

For us, to be honest, we never thought we 'needed' a bigger family, as others have indicated. The reason we've adopted is well, the first time God told me to in a dream and the second time, He impressed on both our hearts that there was a girl whom we needed and who needed us. God's command to take care of the orphans was a big part of this. Did we adopt just because it was our 'duty' or 'responsibility?'

No, absolutely not!

After years of thinking about this, I've come to the conclusion that it is not offensive or condescending to adopt because you simply want to follow God. Hear me out...there was a time in my life that I was lost and alone, a spiritual orphan. Then God saw me, had mercy on my, reached out to me and saved me. I now have been adopted into the family of God and He is my Abba Father, who will NEVER leave me or forsake me.

My dad died almost 9 years ago now. It was by no choice of his own, but he left me. He loved and adored me, but he left. He lives in heaven now and I cannot wait to be reunited with him someday. But on this earth and in this life, he left me. My heavenly Father will never leave me. Never.

So if I don't take offense at the spiritual state I once found myself in and the fact that I had a desperate need for saving, why would it be offensive to do what God did for me (spiritually speaking) for an orphan on earth?

I mean, He didn't do it out of duty but out of incredible love.

So it is with adoption. The source of our strength and motivation must be Jesus and His saving grace for me.

We do not adopt out of duty but from a heart of love, recognizing that adoption is a beautiful and direct picture and example of God's love for us. Adoption is the heart of God.

Al Mohler spoke about this. He said that if you look at the Bible, simply put it is about the creation-the fall (Adam and Eve sinning)-redemption (Jesus payment for our sins on the cross)-and the final consummation (eternity)

Israel was an orphan nation and God adopted them as His own.

Do you see the picture of adoption in this?

-A child is born (CREATION-every life is a gift from God)

-But for whatever reason the child is left either left by the death of a parent/s, or abandoned, they are alone (THE FALL)

-They are adopted into a family where they are loved (REDEMPTION-they are redeemed from possible death, loneliness, abuse, neglect, illness)

-And now have a forever family (FINAL CONSUMATION-HEAVEN)

The parallel is striking and obvious. Adoption is a perfect picture of the gospel.

We as Christians should be standing in line to adopt, wanting to be a reflection of the love and heart of our God.

I was so encouraged by these words but just haven't had time or the chance to put them down in words.

So this was day one of the Summit...I haven't even gotten to the brilliant message taught by John Piper. But let me tell you, it was POWERFUL and so true.

He asked the question, "What does it mean to live by faith?" Even though I read this passage of scripture many times before, I never noticed what it actually says. I'll give you the scripture and you can read it and try and figure out where he went with it. The passage is Hebrews 11:29-35. I'll give you a hint...there is a shift in verse 35 but not a break in the sequence.

I'll share about it when I get my next chance!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Loved the Orphan Summit

Just a quick post to say that the Orphan Summit was wonderful! So much to learn.

My head was about to explode last night after hearing Piper speak! He spoke right to Blaine and I and our adoption experience from a Biblical perspective and it just made my head spin. To the point where Advil was necessary! The other speakers were a huge blessing and encouragement in our passion to help the orphan. Being among about 1,300 like minded people was so refreshing. It was a place where we didn't feel like 'out there people' with 'out there ideas'. To be honest, sometimes it gets a little exhausting to defend and explain why we do what we do, especially when most of the world does not understand it.

Remember when I said some months back that when you live the gospel out in your life, everything ends up being upside-down? The poor will be rich, the weak are strong, the first are last, etc. All of that is opposite of what the world tells you is important. The world says, "You only live once, get all you can get, be first and be strongest and leave all others in your wake." This is not the gospel!

Anyway, Blaine and I had the privilege of meeting Eileen and Jerry. These are two people who I've admired for some time and who I can say, directly impacted my heart on adopting a teenager from Ethiopia. Here's her blog...check her out. I'll share more later on what we talked about but it was a blessing from God that I literally almost ran into her coming around a corner! God ordained meeting.

We also got a very nice surprise when, coming out of a session, a sweet lady stopped us to ask us if we had a blog. I said, "Yes." She was hesitant to tell us because she didn't want to come across as a stalker but she lives in Colorado and reads my blog! She is a mom, waiting to pass court for her gorgeous little baby girl in Ethiopia. Yep, we got to see the picture!! Cute pudgy cheeks in all their glory! When you're waiting to get your child home from Ethiopia, it is VERY fun to read other peoples blogs! She's a blessed mom and she blessed us by introducing herself to us. It's just nice to know someone actually reads this crazy blog!

I will share more about the content of the Summit hopefully tomorrow. Super busy day today getting ready for huge birthday party tomorrow.