Monday, November 29, 2010

Don't Miss it.........

Last week I announced to my kids that I was heading up into the attic to bring down our Christmas decorations. Megan, Kaylee and their best friend, Hannah, all jumped in to begin helping me. I went up and down the attic stairs several times and each time I heard Tia yelling Garrett's name. I didn't think much about the fact that she was yelling for him until I realized that she was continuing to get louder.
On my last trip down the attic stairs I noticed that Tia was standing at the top of our staircase yelling Garrett's name at the top of her lungs. As I closed the attic stairs I saw her bolt down the stairs yelling, "Garrett, Garrett, Garrett!" When she reached the bottom of the stairs she quickly opened the door to our study and yelled, "Garrett, Come fast......It is Christmas!" She then turned and ran as fast as her little legs could go back up the stairs to where I was.
Garrett quickly quit playing his computer game and joined us at the top of the stairs. I quickly explained to both of them that we were just decorating our house for Christmas and that Christmas was still several weeks away. They both smiled from ear to ear and started searching in the boxes that I had just retrieved from the attic.
As I watched them open each box with delight, I smiled at the fact that Tia didn't want Garrett to miss it! Neither Tia nor Garrett have any idea what Christmas is all about and all Tia knew is that she didn't want her brother to miss out. What a precious sight for me to see as her mother.
God's still small voice spoke to me as I watched them enjoy looking through the boxes......"Mendy, Don't miss IT this year- Life is busy- decorations to be hung, baking to do, cards to send, and gifts to buy but don't miss IT! Don't miss the fact that I sent a tiny baby to come and rescue this broken world."
As I wiped the tears in my eyes I realized that I have a huge task ahead of me. A task of not only not missing IT for me but for these precious kids that God has entrusted into my care. This year will I teach Tia and Garrett that Christmas is about the music, the lights, the tree, the presents, the jolly old man or will I share with them about a tiny baby who came to live among us that they might have life eternal?
What about you? I sure hope that you and your family don't miss IT this year........

"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I am overwhelmed by God's unexpected blessings using friends and many we have never even met to meet the needs on the island where Tia and Garrett's birth family live today!

The scene above was where I found myself a few months ago. We had enjoyed the day on the island visiting with Tia and Garrett's friends and birth family for several hours and then we all piled onto the boat to set sail back to the mainland. I found myself very overwhelmed as I watched the men, women, boys and girls standing on the shore waving as we sailed away. My heart ached to bring the hope and help that each of them need so desperately. I cried not only tears on the outside but I cried out in my heart for God to help us help these that we had grown to love.

Five or ten minutes into our journey toward the mainland I was so caught up in my thoughts that I had never made sure that all six of my kids made it back onto the boat. I started to panic when I found five but I didn't see Lindsay. I quickly stood up and in fear started to ask where she was only to find her having a great time with Kari Burns-Anderson near the back of the boat. (A small side note that will soon be a post is how Kari loved on Lindsay all day long while David and I met with the island leaders) She was as happy as she could be and so when all six kids were counted for then I took my seat and started to pray...........Here is much of what my prayer sounded like-

"God, I know that you have been here with us today. I know you see the great need and want us to do something about it but how in the world can we? You know that we have just adopted these precious kids and you know the expense not only in the adoption but the expenses that are ahead in the years to come. God, I want nothing more than to be able to build the three wells that are needed and make sure that a medical clinic is built soon but how? I see no way of our family having the resources to do this and God you know where the funds will come from but right now all my heart can do is hurt and wonder how? I wish that I could bring all 1500 people off of that island and bring them home to live with us.........." the prayer went on and on and ended more than an hour later with me promising to God that I would do all I could to share His love with those on that island who need Him by providing for their needs.

After praying I started to dream about what it really would look like to be able to provide those wells and medical clinic that the elder's of the island told us were needed. My hope (and dream in that moment) started to be that in one year we could begin to build the first well and hopefully raise enough money the next two years to have all three wells built in three years. My goal was to have the three wells and the medical clinic finished in about 10 years. That seemed like a good goal when I knew we would need about $65,000.00 to complete the task ahead.

As always- God had such greater plans than my shallow plans of one well a year! He placed on our friends, Robin and Dave Laney, to start Garret's Heart in order to provide clean water and the medical clinic. I would never had dreamed that our friends in Nebraska would be the avenue that God would use to bring about His change on the island. Robin had read several of my blogs about the compassion of our son's heart and decided she could do something to help. I am still amazed that people who have never met us have given of their time and resources to allow those who call the island home to soon have access to clean water and medical care. People who have given hundreds and even a thousand dollars at a time and hours of hard work to allow change to take place on this small remote island in the middle of Ethiopia simply blows my mind. I cried today (a long sobbing cry) as I scrolled down my Facebook page to see friend after friend sharing with all those in their Facebook World- Simply Amazing!

To date enough money has been raised to provide for all three clean water drinking wells and now the process is ongoing to raise enough money to provide for the medical clinic. In less than six months (not 3 years) all three wells will be drilled and working on the island. Thank you to all those who have given- not one penny will be overlooked. Not one dress down day at school, ice cream given up, toy sold, tea party held or water bill matched will be forgotten by this mom who is forever grateful. I can't wait to get to heaven someday and see the thank you exchanged between the Zay people and the people who gave them not only physical water but eternal life.......To God Be the Glory!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

When I see you there..........

There is a song that I have been listening to the past few days that is a constant reminder of the task ahead of our family. A song written by an adoptive son to his mother thanking her for giving him life. It is a constant reminder to me of the journey that Tia and Garrett's birth mom has traveled (which I can't begin to imagine) and more than where she has traveled where she is heading.
I have shared before that the island is an unreached people group which means that they haven't heard the gospel of Jesus. There is no written Bible and no one sharing Christ love with them out on the island. This simply breaks my heart.

In this song the song writer writes to his birth mom-
"And when I see you there
Watching from heaven's gates
Into your arms
I'm gonna run
And when you look in my eyes
You can see my whole life
See who I was
And who I've become"

My prayer for the past several months is that this scene will come to be........that one day we can be sure that Werke will be together with us in heaven forever- That she will know that her unselfish love allowed her precious kids to have a life that not only gave them physical things but led them to know the love of their Savior. Will you join me in praying for Werke and the other 1500 people on the island? As Clean water wells are going in on the island in January, I pray that not only will they drink of that clean water but also know and feel the love of Jesus!

Everything to Me
By: Mark Scultz

I must have felt your tears
When they took me from your arms
I'm sure I must have heard you say goodbye
Lonely and afraid had you made a big mistake
Could an ocean even hold the tears you cried

But you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And you made the only choice you could that night

You gave life to me
A brand new world to see
Like playing baseball in the yard with dad at night
Mom reading Goodnight Moon
And praying in my room
So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me

And if I saw you on the street
Would you know that it was me
And would your eyes be blue or green like mine
Would we share a warm embrace
Would you know me in your heart
Or would you smile and let me walk on by
Knowing you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And I hope that you'd be proud of who I am

You gave life to me
A chance to find my dreams
And a chance to fall in love
You should have seen her shining face
On our wedding day
Oh is this the dream you had in mind
When you gave me up
You gave everything to me

And when I see you there
Watching from heaven's gates
Into your arms
I'm gonna run
And when you look in my eyes
You can see my whole life
See who I was
And who I've become


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


This last week many have sent me e-mails, called, or in-boxed me to find out how things are going now that we have been a party of eight for a few months. I must say that overall things are going well. Many questions have been ask about the twins education, how our biological kids have adjusted and some just simply have been asking how we do it. I will try to very quickly give you a very real glimps into the life of our family as of now.

Some days are long and hard, others full of fun and everyday we laugh as a family. Tia and Garrett both have very funny personalities that seem to fit very well into our family. We do have long periods where life is not so fun and easy. Neither Garrett nor Tia like to be told no or being corrected at any level. They both shut down (almost completely) anytime David or I have to tell them no, ask for a change in their behavior or correct them in any way. These periods of time are very hard for our family yet we had read enough and received help from professionals long before we encountered these situations to know to expect them and how to deal with them when (not if) they came. As hard as these moments are I love holding Tia and Garrett while they cry and whispering to them that I will always love them.

Most of the time you can find both Tia and Garrett playing either outside or upstairs in our playroom. Garrett learned to ride a bike in less than 3 minutes- Literally the first time he got on the bike he took off- and has only had a few minor accidents (only one broken helmet so far). Tia loves to play school, tea party and dress-up with Lindsay. Lindsay and Tia have personalities much the same in that they love to play with each other but they also love to play alone. Many afternoons I will find the two of them in the playroom where Tia will be playing with the doll house and Lindsay will be playing a game.

The twins are doing very well in our local public school. I have been amazed watching their progress. I often think back to three months ago where they knew very little English as I listen to them read out loud to me. Garrett is reading on the level that most first graders come into first grade reading and Tia is just a little behind him. They are both in the same classroom this year and I love their teacher Miss King. She has been amazing with them and we couldn't have ask for a better teacher to help them adjust to American education. Tia and Garrett spend at least an hour a day with the English as a Second Language teacher and they seem to be progressing with her as well. Both do very well in math and they only have six kids in their math class which has been very helpful.

I had a parent teacher conference this past week with Miss King and I had to laugh as she shared with me that Tia is a social butterfly at school. She said that when Tia goes out to the playground that all of the other first graders chant for her and want her to come and play with them. She said that Tia knows more first graders than even she knows. She must get that from her dad!

Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob seem to be adjusting well to having two new siblings. There are times of frustation for each of them but the fact that they spent the summer in Ethiopia and saw the great need there has helped to lessen the frustation. They have each stepped up to help Tia and Garrett adjust in their own way and it has been neat to watch each of them use their gifts to love their new siblings.

Jacob has been a great big brother. The biggest battle for Jacob is that Garrett loves to have a light on when he sleeps and Jacob likes his room pitch dark to sleep. This causes issue because they share a room but Jacob and David build a fort each evening over Jacob's bed to block out the light and that seems to work for now. Garrett now knows how to play "American Football", kickball, four square and many other games that Jacob has be patient enough to teach him. As for soccer, they don't play much together because Jacob is smart and knows that he would probably get beat by his little brother.

Megan has been very patient with both Tia and Garrett. She has the hardest time when they get upset and she always wants to make things better for them. Just yesterday it was precious for me to watch Tia read a book to Megan and see how proud Megan was of her. Megan is very motherly with the twins and it is fun to get a small glimpse of what she will be like when God blesses her with children MANY years from now.

Kaylee has always been the organizer of our family and that has continued as we have increased our family size. Yesterday she filled out our monthly calendar and as always packed lunches last nightprior to bed for the entire family. I am so thankful for Kaylee because neither David or I are organized and so as much as we drive her crazy, life wouldn't run as smoothly without her keeping us all in line. Kaylee loves Garrett but he gives her a run for her money. Kaylee loves to pick on people to have fun and Garrett picks right back which Kaylee is not yet use to. Each day at least once the two of them are picking on each other- sometimes both laughing and sometimes both crying!

Lindsay has really stepped up and is very helpful with Tia and Garrett. It is fun for me to watch her help them both with their homework. I can see the pride in her as she teaches them something they didn't know. We taught Lindsay prior to the twins being here with us that when she needs alone time with either david or I to just say, "I need some Mommy (or Daddy) time". This has worked out so well and I think her knowing that she can always ask for alone time with us has made the transition easier for her. She loves Tia and Garrett and is so glad to be a big sister by a few months.

Logistically around our house things have had to change some as well having eight people live here. I won't bore you with our schedule (however a few of you have ask me- I will respond privately to those) We do laundry everyday and sometime a few times a day because of soccer and football. The kids have chores that help keep things in order to some degree (Tia is very good at setting the table and Garrett loves to sweep). It really is amazing how fast eight people can clean off a table after dinner or how fast four kids can clean a playroom. Backpacks, lunch boxes and homework were challenging the first few weeks of school but now we have not only a routine but an organized place for all six backpacks, lunch boxes and papers for me to fill out and so life is running much more smoothly both in the afternoons and mornings.

Lindsay, Garrett, and Tia are all three on the same soccer team. They all three are having a blast playing together. On Saturday Garrett made a pass to Lindsay and Lindsay scored. I got so excited watching Garrett run over to Lindsay and high fived her saying, "Good Job Lindsay!"
Garrett is a very good player and he usually scores several goals each game. Tia is a fast runner when she wants to be and so she has wonderful days playing and sometimes she would rather just cheer for her teammates. It has been so much fun watching them play together with David helping to Coach with a friend of ours.

This past Saturday after the game Coach Brent passed out soccer trophies. He would pick up each trophy, speak about the player and then hand the player their trophy as he shook their little hands. When he got to Lindsay I was so proud of how good she has played this year and it was such a joy to see her huge smile as she received her trophy. Then he spoke about Tia and to watch my daughter walk up and get her trophy brought such joy to my heart knowing that she had never received an award before. When he spoke about Garrett tears started streaming down my face. I was shaking so hard that I couldn't even get a good picture.

Garrett had just shared with our family last week that on the island he had made a ball once out of a piece of plastic and some old fabric scraps.This was the only ball he had ever had. To think that our children had come from using that kind of ball to them receiving a trophy with their name ingraved on it was simply overwhelming- As I watched my three youngest gaze proudly at their trophies I thanked God that when He whispered to us to add to our family by caring for the fatherless that we said YES!

Each day is not easy but each day is more than rewarding. To know that two very lonely kids feel not only our love but the love of their Father helps to make the tough times all worth it! Life is busy, hard and full of joy and I wouldn't trade it for a secure, stable life for anything-

Is your life secure and stable? Maybe today you could take a risk and watch God work in ways that you couldn't begin to imagine- You will be so glad that you did!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Moment Like No Other....

Our first few moments with our precious kids

As we arrived at Faith Children's Home late in the afternoon Nicco parked the car as David and I walked up to the large metal gate. I had such mixed emtions- For almost a year I had held photos, dreamed about and fallen in love with these two precious children that I would soon hold in my arms. I felt that I knew them well inside and out yet I really didn't know them at all.

As we knocked a lady answered the front gate and allowed us in. We quickly walked up the front stairs of the house into an office area where we were told to have a seat. I was clinging onto the stuffed bear that we had brought for Tia with one hand and holding onto David with the other hand. My emotions were like none I had ever experienced. Very soon a lady walked up the stairs with our precious son and daughter. Words can't begin to express the joy in this mother's heart- They were just as I had imagined them.

I gave Tia a huge hug and then just held her precious face in my hands- much like I had after I delivered Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay- I wanted to see every tiny detail of her. She was so pretty and her smile was larger than any smile I had ever seen. David was doing the exact same thing with Garrett and after a few minutes we switched. Tears pouring down my face I held my son for the first time. He seemed so unsure and shy but very handsome.

We gave them each their stuffed bears and showed them how to push the hand of the bear to hear our family say, " Mommy, Daddy, Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay love you very much and can't wait for you to come home." They pressed the button over and over again to hear the voices of their siblings who were half way around the world from them and giggled with delight each time they heard their voices. Priceless moments for me to hear my children laugh and giggle for the first time.

I had so much that I wanted to say to Tia and Garrett- I wanted to share how much I love them and how I have waited for what seemed like forever for this moment to be with them. They don't understand English and so no words would be understood by them but I continued to whisper to them how amazing God had made them and how much I loved them as I hugged and kissed them. Tia would run her fingers in my hair and just stare at my face. I think she couldn't believe I was really there in front of her. She would blink her eyes as if she thought she was maybe dreaming. Garrett kept rubbing on David's arms in the same disbelief. We were really all four there together yet it seemed so unreal to all four of us.

As we were spending those first few minutes together Nicco continued to meet with the office staff at Hope to collect any more information that he could. He also started asking Tia and Garrett quesions about their mother and father. Garrett was very helpful and seemed to be answering every question that Nicco would ask which made me more confident and hopeful that we would be able to locate their birth family. His last question for them was if they had to ride a boat from their home to get to the orphanage and Garrett and Tia both said yes. In my heart I was praising God that within a few short hours of being on the ground in Ethiopia so many questions were starting to have answers.

Since it was late in the day we were not allowed to spend much time with our precious kids- We were there with them for only about an hour. This hour radically changed my life forever. Saying goodbye was very hard but we promised that the next day we would be back early to spend the entire day with them.

To hold my son and daughter in my arms was the most amazing gift in the world. To hear them call me mom was simply a moment like no other. As we left from the orphanage I like Tia began to blink my eyes to make sure that I was not dreaming-

Having Hope........

Last year on this very day I found myself trying to have hope in a very hopeless situation. We had received word from our agency that Tia and Garrett were not adoptable but we knew that these were indeed the children that God had called for us to parent. After a few days of praying David and I very clearly felt that God was asking us to go to Ethiopia and be a voice for our children who had no voice. This was a very difficult task for us to both feel the need to go because we had always agreed that we would travel to Ethiopia one at a time while our children are still young. I knew deep in my heart that God was saying go yet I was wrestling with leaving Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay here for a week and a half without either of us here.

We told our agency of our plans to go only a few short days prior to our departure and they thought that we were going to be in Ethiopia on a mission trip- They just didn't realize that our mission was to get our precious kids home! Thankfully we listened when God said go and here is the journey from my journal in November of last year (broken into many blogs due to length):

Nov. 2009
Tonight I find myself in Langano, Ethiopia a place that has forever transformed my life yet tonight my emotions are overwhelming and I am not sure I can even put onto paper my thoughts. David continues to urge me to write each day but until now I have simply been overwhelmed and unable to write. So here we go......

Leaving for this trip was very hard for me- Lindsay and Jacob were weeping uncontrollably Sunday night at bedtime and it made me want to stay at home and not come on this trip. I even said to David late Sunday night that I wasn't sure I could leave and I told him that I might need to stay behind at home with the kids. He reminded me that we both felt God saying for us to both go and so I quietly argued with God about what He was asking us to do as I tried to go to sleep.

We arrived at the Charlotte airport very early Monday morning and had long flights as usual but it was nice to have David with me for once. Mike Rogers and David Haywood traveled here with us to do some survey work in Langano and so once we arrived it took five hours to get their equipment through customs. The entire five hours I was so excited to be so close to our twins yet my heart was so heavy due to the reason that we were here. So many unknowns, questions and doubts swirled through my mind. I had hoped to visit with Tia and Garrett as soon as we arrived but since it took so long in customs I had come to the reality that we wouldn't get to see them until the next day.

Mike Rogers good friend Nicco was at the airport upon our arrival and David and I were both struck by what a kind and giving man he was from the moment we met him. We headed out of the airport and piled into Nicco's car. Nicco took Mike to get a drivers permit for while he was in country and when they arrived back at the car Nicco started asking us about Tia and Garrett. He then said, "Let's go now and visit with them." As he spoke those words my heart literally almost stopped.

As Nicco drove we explained more about our situation to him and he shared with us that he was willing to help us in any way that was needed. He made a phone call to the lady in charge of our agency in Addis and she said that we could come to meet her at the Hope office. She gave Nicco directions and we quickly drove to meet with her. We were not sure what she was going to say to us or if she would even allow us to visit with the kids. Knowing that a few children have gone "missing" from the agency made me worried that since our children were unadoptable that they may have moved them to another orphanage where we couldn't visit them.

We arrived at the compound and I took a long, deep breath as I entered into the Hope office. The office was a small building with two desks- Rahel, the lady in charge was seated at one and another lady sat behind the other desk. There were also several young men sitting around the office. My body was literally shaking as I reached out my hand to greet each of them. I knew that in the next few moments we would find out so many details of our case. I quietly prayed that God would be our strength and allow us to handle whatever was ahead in this battle.

I ask if Tia and Garrett were at this orphanage and Rahel quickly said no. She then explained in a language that I didn't understand that they were at the other children's home. My heart sank as she said no prior to Nicco translating that we could go see them but that they were at the other orphanage. Sheer relief knowing that we were going to get to hold them in our arms because prior to that moment we were not guaranteed to see them at all on this trip.

Nicco continued his dialog with Rahel and soon everyone in the room had joined in the discussion- Everyone except us because we had no idea what they were saying. I knew that they were either excited or angry because the volume kept going up but I was unsure if what they were saying was good or bad. I finally broke in and ask Nicco what was happening. As he looked at me he smiled and said that Rahel had given him permission to look for Tia and Garrett's birth family if he was willing to do so.

The fact that Rahel had given Nicco the go ahead to help locate their birth family was a miracle because we were told from the owner of Hope that we could not hire a finder or be involved at any level in the process of locating their birth family. We knew from speaking to other adoption agencies that hiring a finder is very legal and done often yet with our agency we were told no. Par for the course when it comes to dealing with our agency.

Nicco also explained after looking at Tia and Garrett's file that they were in fact from an island in the middle of Lake Zway. He was also told that no one had tried locating the birth family due to the remoteness of the island. I was furious because we had been told that for months Tia and Garrett's birth family had been searched for when they had not even tried once to locate them. When Nicco looked in the file folder their birth mom's name and the name of the island were written in the file that looked as if it had not been opened in over a year. Yes, I was angry but down deep in my soul was a deep joy and hope that we could locate their birth family and be able to move forward in bringing our twins home.

We climbed back into Nicco's car and he started to explain to us that he had friends who were in the Zway area and that his brother was doing some work out on one of the islands. He quickly started making some phone calls as he drove us towards our precious children. Phone calls that would forever change the life of our family-