Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Six Months......

Six months ago this Saturday (Christmas day) these six were together for the very first time. It is sometimes hard to believe that we have been a family of eight for half of a year and then at times I feel that we have been together forever. When I think back six months ago from today I remember the joy, anticipation and excitement of what was ahead and it seem like just yesterday. It seems like only yesterday that I also sat on the ground in front of our Christmas tree alone and literally cried out to God to help us bring our precious kids home and that was a year ago today.

I remember last year on this day having a very hard day. A day where hope was hard to hold on to and my heart hurt in a way that it had never hurt. To know that our son and daughter day after day were hurting , alone and longed for us to come was sometimes unbearable. It was such a joy to go in November to spend time with them but that made my longing for them so much greater. To think that our family in a few days would be celebrating, eating , laughing and loving on each other with out the twins seemed so unfair. I knew that I needed to spend some extended alone time with God as I wrestled in my heart with where He had us. He was there as I sat on the ground sobbing and asking Him why over and over. He heard every why, collected every tear and wrapped His arms around me as I cried for over an hour at His feet.

Fast forward to this morning where I went to the same place and instead of tears of pain I sat in the same spot and cried out in sheer joy. I am sure that He caught every tear this morning that fell from this thankful mother's eyes. My why's this year were not why's of waiting but why's of me? Why God have you blessed me beyond measure? Why have you chosen us? Followed by a great time of worship. If you were anywhere near our house you may have heard me praising Him at the very top of my lungs as I sang some of the same songs that I tried to sing last year at this same time yet at a very different place in life.

I am so thankful that my Father is with me whether I hurt or rejoice. That He longs to hold me, catch my tears, rejoice with me and comfort me as my heart aches. I simply can't imagine life without Him. God is good All of the time- For those of you who are hurting this Christmas- Draw near to Him, tell Him your hurts and allow Him to be the great comforter. For those who are blessed beyond measure- Take time in the next few days to carve out an hour and just worship Him. I promise you will be glad you did!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I Had a Dream........

Each night at bedtime Garrett usually shares a story or two (or ten) with me as I tuck him in. I love listening to him share his life with me and always wish we had more hours for bedtime tuck-in. I cherish this priceless time with my son and I am so thankful for it. Tonight was no different yet I was overwhelmed with what he shared with me. During our devotion time tonight we talked about God's power and how He provides for our needs and so maybe this sparked his memory of what he shared with me tonight.

He shared that after David and I had visited him last year that he had a dream while he was sleeping one night in the orphanage. He told me that he dreamed that he was in America and had fallen into some water and could not get up out of the water. He then explained that his daddy came in the water and pulled him up out of the water and saved him. He then went on to share that after David rescued him they played and played all day together.

As he gave great detail to me of this very vivid dream tonight, my eyes once again were overflowing with tears. My son had been given a very real dream of just what was happening in his little life and he really had no idea that his life was mirroring this dream. He still has no idea the decisions Werke has made, the orphanage staff has made, the Ethiopian Govenment has made, and our family has made for him to be here with us right where he belongs nor does he understand the impact of each of those decisions.

As I left his room tonight I thought about the 147 million kids who are fatherless tonight. My hope and prayer is that they would be able to experience this very dream and see it come true in their precious lives just as Garrett has. I stopped and prayed that daddy's all over the world would see that their are millions of children in need of someone to jump into the water and rescue them.

What about you? Are you willing to jump in and allow God to use you to be His hands and feet to a child who needs a daddy or mommy?

I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you- John 14:18
Father to the fatherless, defender of widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy- Psalm 68:5

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

At this very moment........

At this very moment a year ago I found myself here in our study. I wasn't sitting at this desk typing on the computer but instead down on my knees in the floor. David and I were literally wailing as we cried out to God on behalf of our son and daughter who were half a world away.

We had just received one of the most troubling phone calls of our entire adoption process and we both were not sure how much more we could take. We knew that God had called us to the task of adopting Tizita and Geremew and had confirmed that time and time again yet on this day last year I wasn't sure that my heart could take much more. As David held me in his arms in the floor of our study I said to David, "I am tired of Satan continuing to get in our way. How much more?" David had no response except to call out for God to protect our kids and our hearts.

Our friend Nicco had just called to share with us that Tizita and Garemew's birth mother had gone missing. Nicco had traveled over to the island on the previous day to bring Werke (Tia and Garrett's birth mom) over to the mainland to appear in a lower level court to continue the adoption process. He had given her money for her hotel, food and transportation and left her at the hotel with detailed directions on where and how to get to court the next morning. Nicco had to leave from Zway and return to Addis that evening but he felt confident that she would get herself to court the very next morning.

On the afternoon of December 1st, Nicco received a phone call from court in Zway asking why Werke had not shown up for her court date. He had no idea why she had not gone and he tried to make several phone calls to locate her to no avail. The hotel had not even seen her since the day before and this had Nicco very concerned. He had called to ask that we pray for her to be located safely and quickly.

My mind raced as we hung up the phone with him. I knew that Nicco had given her money for her expenses and I am sure that amount of money was more money than she had ever had at one time. Did she run with the money? Had someone hurt her and taken the money? Did she just decide that she didn't want to attend court? The questions went on and on in my mind as I was kneeling on the floor with a puddle of tears gathering in front of me.

A few short weeks prior to this day I had been holding our precious twins- We had been laughing, playing, coloring, and painting together all with the promises that we would be back soon to bring them home. The thought of this not happening was more than I could comprehend. I knew that without Werke, Tizita and Geremew would not be adoptable and would spend years as orphans.

I spent the afternoon crying out for God to once again move a mountain that was bigger than I could see over. Praise God He did and Werke was found quickly and she was safe. Tizita and Geremew's oldest sister Ahitu had become very sick on the island and Werke needed to go back over to the island to help with her. She was having a series of seizers and needed her mom to come home quickly to care for her. Werke had no phone or any means to call Nicco to inform him of what was happening and why she would not be in court.

When Nicoo called to let us know we were relieved yet concerned for Ahitu. To make a very long story short..........Our amazing friend Nicco took Ahitu in for several months. He brought her into his home in Addis and provided for her to get the medical care she needed. Nicco is by far the most selfless person that I have ever met and to think that he not only worked step by step to allow us to bring our kids home but he cared for their family in ways that are simply unheard of. Can you imagine bring a sick teenage girl into your home? Providing all of the medical care both physically and financially? He would tell me how he would help her put lotion on her hands and feet because she was so ill she couldn't, he would get up with her in the middle of the night while she was sick and make sure that she took all of her medicine right on time.

The wailing in our study turned into a picture of care, compassion and grace. Nicco's actions when he found out the situation simply challenged my heart. Am I willing to go out of my way for the needs of another? As God answered my prayer to find Werke He started stirring in my heart...... I had to ponder what I saw Nicco doing and wonder if I would have done the same-
What about you? Are you willing to look beyond yourself to the needs of others?

~Today Geremew's middle name is Nicodemus after our friend Nicco. I look forward to the years ahead where Geremew can understand just how selfless Nicco has been for him and his family and I pray that Geremew will follow in his footsteps to care for the needs around him daily~

Matthew 25:34-45

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

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-

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I don't care..........

Along this journey of adoption there are great days, hard days, busy days, crazy days and very unpredictable days. This past Saturday I found myself in one of those unpredictable days where a situation stopped me in my tracks and made me realize just how much I love my kids. A day where someone said something to make me know of my deep love for the six blessings that have been entrusted to me.

Lindsay, Garrett, and Tia had a soccer game (football game if you ask Garrett) and so we as a family headed out to the field along with some friends who were visiting with us for the weekend. We got our chairs all set up and the kids started to play. Tia and Lindsay are really having fun playing soccer this season and Garrett is not only having a blast but he is a really good soccer player. This week was no different than the past few weeks Garrett started on offense and pretty quickly scored a goal. It is so much fun to see the joy on his face as he kicks and then watches the ball enter the goal- It never will get old watching his sheer joy when he scores!

Now Garrett is a very fast and somewhat aggresive soccer player from his years at the orphanage where all they had was one small ball to play with. He spent most of his days playing soccer on a small concrete driveway surrounded by four walls and many kids fighting for the ball. This comes out on the soccer field from time to time but it has never been an issue, he just plays hard and usually ends up with the ball.

This week during the game Garrett was playing hard and as he was playing hard he tripped a player from the other team. The referee blew his whistle and stopped play to allow the other team to kick the ball due to the violation. As the referee blew his whistle several of the parents from the other team started yelling, "Cheater! That kid is a cheater!" At first I wasn't sure I heard them correctly but about the tenth time they repeated themselves I knew that what I thought they were saying was indeed what they were saying. I then saw their coach say a few not nice things to the referee about my son and I knew that I must do something.

I very quickly got up from my seat and just knew in my heart that if the parents who were calling my son a cheater knew his situation then they would understand and quickly stop calling him names. I walked over to the four parents who were yelling and said very calmly, "Excuse me, but that is my son and he hasn't been with us very long. He spent the last few years in an orphanage in Ethiopia and he is continuing to learn the rules that we use here in soccer." Before I could even finish one of the fathers said in a very hateful voice, "I don't care where he is from, get him off of the field now!" As my body began to shake I turned and as quickly as I could and I walked back to my seat trying to hold back my tears.

As I sat back down I replayed what had just taken place. I looked beside me and our precious Megan was fighting back tears as she said, "Mom, I am going to cry. Why would someone be so mean?" I answered her by saying, "Megan, people aren't always going to understand. It is my job to stand up for Garrett in this situation but when people mistreat us we must turn the other cheek and be Christ like. All we can do is be nice and hope that our kindness will bring about change." Even as I spoke those words my shaking would not stop. My heart was breaking for my son that I love with all that I am.

As the game continued so did the shouting. It changed to them yelling things like, "Take him out", "Trip him" and many other very mean things. I sat quietly praying that Garrett would be protected from their ugly words and thankfully he was. He had no idea what they were yelling or even that they were yelling at him. He continued to play his very best and you better believe that when he scored the next goal I was on my feet yelling for him!

As the game went on I started thinking about the words that had been spoken to me- The words........I don't care. I know that so many really don't care about anything more than themselves, their kids, and their own comfort. I see it everyday, yet I don't know that I have ever had another adult actually speak the words- I don't care. Most people really don't care and even if it is unspoken it is clearly seen by how they live their lives.

I hope that by the way I live my life people will know that I do care! Are my actions matching my words? I thought about that as my body continued to shake. On Saturday their words were matching their actions in a negative way but it made me stop and thing about my own life..........I do care and I want it to show!

What about in your life? Do you care or would others conclude that you don't care when they look at your life? Just a little something to think about-

In case you wanted to know.........Our team won and after the game a player from the other team came over and called Garrett a cheater...... Guess who that players parents were? Our kids are always watching and learning- Do your kids know you care so that they can follow or are we raising a generation who says- I Don't Care?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Garrett's Heart.........

As I sit and write this post tears are steaming down my face.............
I am amazed again at what God is doing as we walk down this path of adoption that He has called our family to. Not only do we feel called to love these precious twins that needed a home but we have such a strong desire to love their extended family and friends that reside on the island where Tia and Garrett spent their first four years. The need on the island is great and as we have thought about and prayed about the enormous needs we sometimes feel overwhelmed but tonight as I sit here weeping I know that my God will provide ALL that is needed for the Zay people in ways that I would never have dreamed of!

After reading several of my blogs over the past few weeks where I have shared that my son Garrett wants to help his fiends and family who will forever live on the island, some of our very best friends started Garrett's Heart. Dave and Robin Laney who currently live in Nebraska hosted a very LARGE yard sale this past weekend and made well over $2,000.00 to help Garrett provide basic needs of food, water and medical help for those that he loves so much. I of course cried when I heard that so many people in Nebraska had given so much in order for this event to take place.

Dave and Robin are also partnering with a few churches and families by asking them to consider matching their water bill for a month and sending that amount of money to help build a well on Tia and Garrett's island. I am simply amazed that those who don't know Garrett or our family have been willing to donate items, give of their time and financially make sacrifices to help make sure that Garrett's heart can rest knowing that the needs of the ones he loves are going to soon be met.

Tonight I received this note from Robin, " I just heard tonight that one of my friends' daughters have just been approved by their private school to have a day dedicated to Garrett's Heart where the kids will pay to 'dress down' and have the opportunity to give even more as their hearts lead!!!! These girls (and their mom) read your blogs incessantly. :)" As I read this tonight the flood gates of tears that still will not stop started- Kids at a private school in Nebraska will give money to dress down for a day so a precious six year old boy in Charlotte, North Carolina will be able to provide for so many half way around the world! Our God is a BIG God!

If you want more information on Garrett's Heart you can go to

Off to try to stop the tears as I praise the One who has known all along the greatness of the task ahead and has every step covered as we follow Him-

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What a difference.......

What a difference a year makes. One year ago today, David and I sent our kids off to school and he had a great day planned for my Birthday. We spent the entire morning together and had lunch at Foster's Grill. When we pulled out of the parking lot from lunch, where we had dreamed of what the next year would hold, I noticed that our adoption agency was calling. My hands literally started to shake because they never contacted us and earlier that morning I had received word that several waiting families from our agency had been issued a court date. I couldn't answer the phone quickly enough and David shared later how he just knew that God had saved this special phone call of a court date for my Birthday.

When I answered the phone the lady from our agency did not have a court date for us but instead said that she was sorry but that we should take another referral because the children that we had been waiting for were unadoptable. I made her repeat herself as I felt feelings that I had never felt before. Tears started streaming down my face and all of the excitement of answering the phone turned to sheer disbelief. This couldn't be happening I thought to myself. We have loved our precious twins for ten months and they knew we were coming. We had sent two care packages with our family photos and introduced ourselves as their mom and dad. We had even had phone conversations with them where we promised that we were going to come soon to bring them home.

I had a million questions of which I only ask the agency representative about three and her responses were all the same. She simply said, "I have no details but I can have the owner of the agency call you soon." As I hung up the phone I literally felt sick. I have faced having a heart condition, losing those close to me, moving far from family and a tubual pregnancy yet nothing even closely compared to the deep ache in my heart. By the time I was off of the phone David had pulled into the parking lot at the mall and I stepped out of the car and over to a small patch of grass because I knew at any moment I was going to lose the Birthday lunch that we had just enjoyed. David walked over to where I was and wanted me to recount the phone coversation that I had just finished. I couldn't form the words and I just cried in his arms. Finally after a few minutes I explained how she was calling to inform us that Tizita and Geremew were not adoptable and no reason was given as to why. We both were is disbelief and we neither one were in any shape to drive home. We just held each other and cried and I am sure that anyone passing by knew that something horrible had just happened in our life. We finally settled down enough to get into the car and drive home.

As we pulled into our driveway I notice that my good friend Angela was at our house waiting for me. I started to wonder how she knew what was happening and how she came so fast. As I got out of the car it then occurred to me as I saw her holding a gift for me that she was there for my Birthday not because of the news that we had just received. Tears were flowing down my face as I walked up the driveway to my sweet friend and she didn't say a word only held me in her arms. I then stepped back and shared with her the news that had just been delivered to us. God knew well in advance to have a precious friend at our home to meet us when we arrived there and I will never forget His goodness that arrived to us in the form of a great friend.

After we arrived home David and I knew that we had to come up with a plan to share with Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay this unexpected news. The thought of having to disappoint them with the news that their brother and sister would not be coming home was almost more than I could bear yet we knew as soon as they saw us they would know that something terrible had happened while they were at school. While we waited for their arrival home we crawled into our bed, cried and called out to God.

Lindsay and Jacob arrived home first and we called them to come up to our room. David explained to them that we didn't know exactly why but that Tizita and Geremew could not become a part of our family. They both burst into tears and started asking all of the questions that David and I had. With each question we just held them and said that we didn't know but that God did and we would just have to trust Him. When Megan and Kaylee arrived home we shared the same news with the same response. Tears were flowing and they had several harder questions like, "If we are following what God wants us to do by adopting then why would He allow them to not come home?" Questions like these had been flowing through my mind for the past three hours and there were no answers.

The six of us spent Friday night (other than a tear filled Birthday dinner at Olive Garden) and ALL day Saturday huddled in our bedroom. We cried and prayed for those two days- It was a weekend that none of us will ever forget. On Saturday David was wrestling with what he would share on Sunday morning. If you know our family you know we are very real and we share our lives like an open book. He knew that the series he was currently prepared for he could not speak on. He was sharing a series called Life at the Office and he decided to scrap that idea and share what was happening in our family instead.

That Sunday was another day that will not be forgotten by our family. The way that our church family loved on us and carried us was simply amazing. I just found out this week that the band was scheduled to play, "I'm going home" to go with the office series on that Sunday and they knew even before David shared that he wasn't doing the office talk that day that they couldn't play that song. People brought meals and gathered around us and prayed. One guy in his early 20's even shared that his adoptive parents had been told that he was unadoptable but they didn't give up and he became theirs.

We were told at the end of the weekend by the owner of the adoption agency that there was little to no hope but that he was willing to try and help us continue with this adoption. He shared that the birth family of Tizita and Geremew could not be located and without that they would never be adopted because they had be relinquished and not abandoned. He told us that he would contact us in several weeks with an update on their situation. We quickly started asking other agencies and those in the adoption field what we could do to help locate a birth family and more importantly we prayed for God to intervien for the sake of these two orphans that He had called us to parent.

Over the next few days I will share our full story of how we got from October 16, 2009 to today where I sat at Foster's Grill for my Birthday lunch beside the cutest twins in the world!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fair or Unfair........

Garrett and his big brother Welde (green shirt)

A few weeks ago the fair was here in town and of course all of our kids wanted to go. Jacob, Megan and Kaylee all ask if we could go to the fair at different times during the ten days it was here in town. My response was the same to each of them when they wanted to know if we could go. I explained to them that taking our family to the fair would cost around $150.00 and that I thought that money could be used for something far more important than a few hours of fun for our family.

Now our family is all into fun and we love to have a good time but I really want to continue to capture our kids hearts and remind them of where and how we spent our summer. While in Ethiopia this summer we had many family times of talking about how blessed we are and how much we could do without. How much money we spend on pleasure when people around the world are starving, homeless and fatherless was often the center of our conversations while living in Addis for six weeks. I have been so thankful that since our return I can see a marked difference in each of our children in the way they view life but as time goes by I want to continue to keep fresh in their minds what we experienced and more than what we experienced what kids their age are facing each day around the world as they live their comfortable lives here in America.

I decided that we needed to spend this same amount of money we would spend at the fair on something that could transform a life half way around the world. I was unsure of what that would be but I trusted that God would give me a chance to share with our kids what $150.00 was able to do other than take our family to the county fair for a few hours. Of course within a few days we found out about a need and we were able to give to fulfill that need.

Nicco contacted us the week after our kids had been asking to go to the fair and shared with us that Welde (Tia and Garrett's brother) had decided that he would like to attend school yet he had no way to pay for his education, housing and supplies. He has been a fisherman for several years but really wants to be able to do more with his life than just fish and he had shared his desire to return to school with Nicco. We of course wanted to help Welde get an education and so we questioned Nicco on the cost to help Welde get registered to attend school.

Nicco thought that it would cost about $100.00 to $150.00 per year to enroll him into school, provide a room for him (off of the island because school only goes to 4th grade on the island), 2 uniforms and school supplies. I was so excited to think that we could send our "fair" money to Welde and allow him to have an education for an entire year verses a few hours of entertainment for our family. I couldn't wait to tell my kids!

Our kids didn't think that it was unfair to not get to attend the fair when they found out that Tia and Garrett's brother could go to school for a year on the same amount of money that it would cost us for an evening of fun. Instead they were very excited to know that we as a family were investing in our extended family half way around the world! I am so thankful that they were able to experience what they experienced this summer.

I spoke to Nicco late last week to find out that he had received the money for Welde's education and that it was enough not only for Welde but for two of Tia and Garrett's sisters as well. The three of them are now attending school each day and being prepared for their future. I couldn't wait for the kids to get home from school last Thursday so I could share that our "fair" money was providing so much more than we even first thought- Life is not always fair but when we give Life is always sweeter!

Next time you start to spend $100.00 on something for entertainment, pleasure or self- indulgence I hope that you will stop and think about what a blessing it could be to someone who has so much less than you and I challenge you to give it away- I promise life will be sweeter!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Little Things.......

It's the little things that remind me of the long journey that we have been on the past few years. Each morning as I take Lindsay, Jacob, Tia and Garrett to school I pray out loud for them. Today as I pulled out of the driveway Tia said, "Mom, today me pray."

As we drove down Stallings Road today my precious six year old, Tia, prayed for each person in our family with her broken English. After she prayed I thought back to the countless days of Jacob, Lindsay and I praying for Tia and Garrett to come home. Tears of sweet joy poured down my face this morning as I kissed all four of them goodbye....... there were days I thought that mornings like this may never become a reality. I am so blessed!

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Sometimes there are people who come into your life and they change you forever. In the photo above you will see a young man named Kediir who has made a huge impact in my life. I have only known Kediir for only a few years and I don't get to see him very often but he will forever hold a special place in my heart.

I met Kediir in the summer of 2005 while in Ethiopia serving at a soccer camp with Sports Friends and at the time Kediir was between 12 and 13 years old. Kediir was on my soccer team for the week and even though we didn't speak the same language I saw first hand him make a decision to trust Jesus with his life. He was from a Muslim family and so his decision to follow Jesus would not be an easy decision when he returned home after camp. It broke my heart the day he climbed on the van with the other guys from my team because I knew that they were all traveling back to their villages where life was going to be even harder than it already was. I cried and prayed for each of them as I knew that I would never see these boys again this side of heaven.

I was very wrong- The next day our team piled on a van and headed out to a few villages to visit a few of the guys who had just spent the week with us. To my surprise one of the first stops was at Kaddir's house. I was so excited to see him again and it was humbling to stand in his small village and meet his family. They were very warm and welcoming and as I hugged his mom I made a promise to myself that I would pray for this families salvation until I returned to Ethiopia the next time.

While we visited with Kediir that day he went into his hut and brought out a bracelet that I had been wearing the entire week at camp. It was a bracelet with photos of Megan, Kaylee, Jacob and Lindsay that my kids had given me to wear while away from them. I had forgotten that on the last night of camp we had a large bonfire and as we were dancing around I had given the bracelet to Kediir to put in his pocket so I wouldn't loose it. He had also forgotten that he had it and when he left from camp it was still in his pocket. He handed it to me and had a translator tell me that he was so sorry that he had forgotten to return it. I handed it back to him and explained that I wanted him to keep it to remind him that I would be praying for him each day. I knew that he would cherish that bracelet and enjoy it more than I ever would.

In February of 2006, David traveled to Ethiopia and when he visited Kediir he was still wearing the bracelet that I had left with him the previous summer. David had new and updated photos of our four children as well as a few photos of Kediir and I from our week at camp to give to him. David was able to spend spend time with Kediir and I was so excited for the two of them to meet each other. Kediir also shared with David that two of his brothers had accepted Christ and how excited he was to not be the only believer of Jesus in his Muslim family. God was answering my prayers-

Over the next few years David and I have continued to stop by and see Kediir and his family everytime we have traveled to Ethiopia. Now several of his siblings are Christ followers. Kediir and his family are always overjoyed to see us and they usually cry with delight upon our arrival. That was no different when we visited with them a few weeks ago.

It had been over 2 years since I had visited with Kediir and so while we were in Ethiopia this summer a visit with his family was very high on my priority list. I couldn't wait for Megan, Kaylee, Lindsay and Jacob (and my sister Carrie) to get to meet this young man that they had been praying for with me. I couldn't wait for Kediir to get to meet the kids that I had told him about on all of our visits together.

I was so thankful that our great friend (and hero) Nicco had some free time and was willing to travel with us to be our translator with Kediir. We weren't sure that Kediir would even be home but as we got close to his village I saw Kediir walking out on the road. Eskel our driver stopped the van and I jumped out to greet him. Tears filled my eyes as I was so excited to get to spend some time with this young man and his family that I pray so much for. Our kids filed out of the car and each hugged Kediir and it was another moment of disbelief that this was actually happening. A day I had dreamed of happening but never thought would be a reality.

We walked towards Kediir's hut and his family all came running out to greet us. They couldn't believe that we were there to visit. My heart broke as Nicco translated Kediir saying that he thought that we had forgotten about him.Nothing was further from the truth and I made sure that he knew that I would always be praying for him and his family .

We spent the next hour catching up with his family and all learning how to use a whip. (See photo above!) It was such a fun afternoon of laughing, playing and just enjoying being together. We even found out while we were there that this brother-in-law is an employee of Nicco at Nicco's new truck stop- What a small, small world! When it was time for us to go, Kediir went into his hut and brought out all of the photos of our family that we had ever given him. He shared with us how much they meant to him and how he thinks of us each day.

Kediir has recently started his secondary education and is very rarely in his village because his school is a few hours away. I was so excited that he was home that day and I am even more excited that this young man who knows Jesus has and will continue to make a huge impact in his community.

I am so thankful that a few years ago I spent a week of my summer in Ethiopia sharing God's love with a group of guys- I would have never guessed how much it would have forever changed my heart and life!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do You Know.......

I took Megan and Kaylee to the orthodontist this past week and as they were called back for their appointments an older man starting talking with me. He was saying that it must be hard for me to have two teenage daughters in one home and how it was hard enough having one teenage granddaughter. He then went on to ask how many children I have. When I responded that I have six children he ask me a question that I dislike but it made me stop and think in a way I never had.........."Do you know what causes that?"

When we had just four children I would laugh, say yes and be on my way when someone would ask this question but that is not what happened last Thursday. Instead out of my mouth came, "Yes, I do. It is caused by God's Spirit stirring in my heart." He had no response and quickly picked up a magazine and said not another word to me. I am sure he was not expecting that response from me and he will probably think twice before ever asking that question again.

As we sat there in the somewhat awkward silence I started to think about the words that I had just spoken. I thought about the fact that God had stirred in my heart to care for those who are fatherless several years ago and when He did I was willing and said yes to His stirring. I thought about other times in my life where He was stirring and I said no or not now. What sweet blessings I was sure to have missed by not allowing His stirring to make His wanted changes in my life. Missed friendships, missed opportunities, missed times of joy, and the list could go on and on of things that I have missed out on by saying no or not right now.

What is God stirring in your heart? Are you willing and saying yes or saying no? Don't miss out on His best by settling for your good-

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with ALL my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with JOY. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A New Favorite Place........

I have a new favorite place in our home and it just happens to be the top bunk in Jacob and Garrett's room. In the past few weeks I have spent several hours on that top bunk listening to my son share stories with me about his life on a remote island in Ethiopia. Bedtime at our house is one of the most important parts of the day and we make sure to spend extra time with each of our children as we read devotions, say prayers and tuck each of them in. For years every night at bedtime we ask the oldest four a few questions about their day such as- Did anyone hurt your feelings today? Anybody break any promises today? and What was the best part of your day?

For the past several weeks as we put Tia and Garrett to bed we couldn't ask much about their day and so I have prayed that at bedtime they would feel our love. Several times in the past few weeks as I have climbed up into Garrett's bed, he has shared so much of his heart and life with me. It has been priceless time that I wasn't sure I would ever get with him and I am so thankful for the stories that he has been sharing with me. On Saturday night I climbed up onto his bed at 8:45pm and climbed down at 11:00pm. Over two hours of him telling me story after story about his life and the life of his family. Here is a small sample of what I heard as I held back my tears and resisted the temptation to go grab a notebook to write down all that he was telling me:

-He remembers a day when he and his oldest brother Welde found some "duck" eggs. He told me that they were both very hungry and had not eaten for a while (maybe a few days?) and he shared with me how excited he was to have found the eggs. He showed me how he and Welde held out their shirts to gather the eggs to carry them home. He literally was giggling with delight as he was explaining to me how Welde put them on the fire to cooked them. He explained that as he was cracking open his first egg to eat his birth mom Werke came into the hut and wanted to know where the eggs came from. They didn't have enough money to purchase the eggs and the boys both laughed and told her that they had found them by the water. I can just imagine our son sitting around the fire, cracking open an egg and savoring every bite of that special treat, yet it breaks my heart. This was the only time that he had eggs on the island and it is something that I don't think he will ever forget.

-He remembers Werke (his birth mom) sending he and Tia to the store to buy something and the store owner would not take the 4 birr that Werke had sent with him. The store owner said that the birr was dirty and Garrett told me that it looked like someone had stepped on it and made it dirty. He knew that his family needed some food and that this was the only birr that Werke had. He decided to go down to the lake and wash the birr. He showed me how he rubbed it in his hands after it was wet to get it clean. He then explained that he put it out on a rock to dry and when it was dry he returned to the store. This time the store owner took the money and gave Garrett what Werke had sent him to purchase.

-He told me of the time that five people from his island were out on a boat in the lake and a hippo turned the boat over. All five died because they didn't know how to swim. He remembers how sad the people on the island were when that happened. He had many other hippo stories as well-

-He told me about nights when Werke would cry because they had no power. There is no power on the island yet he calls anything that lights up power. He explained to me that they had no "yucky smelling stuff to burn in the light" because they had no birr. As he shared this with me I understood that they had no money to buy oil for their oil lamp. I can't begin to image being a mother of eight alone in the darkness of night out on an island. My heart hurt to think of all of the very dark nights Werke and our twins have endured.

-He shared with me stories of stepping on HUGE (and I do mean huge) thorns and how bad it ouched. How he could barely walk when he would step on them and how his birth mom and his grandmother would pull them out while he cried. They would say for him to be strong and he said he couldn't be strong because it hurt so bad.

-He remembers his brother Welde finding some cookies one day and sharing one with him. It was Garrett's first time to have a cookie and his little brother was begging for some. He told me about giving his baby brother a bite and how his baby brother laughed because he got to have a bite of a cookie.

The story that broke my heart more than the others was one of the last he told me. He explained that his baby brother was very sick and so his birth mom had to take him by boat to go and see a doctor. Garrett shared with me that it started to get dark and Werke was not back from going to the mainland. He was very scared as he realized that she was not going to return that evening. He remembered watching for the boat until it to dark to see the water. He and his siblings spent the night alone and he remembers being up most of the night and not being able to sleep because his mother was not there with him. I could see our son worrying about his birth mom, his baby brother and his siblings that were there with him on that dark night and I shed a tear as I tucked him in.
I am so thankful for the gift of these stories and so many more that he has shared with me over the past few weeks. It is such a blessing to get a glimpse into the six years that I missed with him. Years that shaped my son into who he is today...........a precious boy with a heart bigger than mine!

I am looking forward to many more hours in one of my new favorite places-

Monday, September 27, 2010


For the past few days I have been wondering about several things and one of the things that I have been wondering about is if I should really write this blog. I say that to say that I know that so many of you reading this will not understand nor will you agree with what I am about to write. I am not asking you to understand completely (because I certainly do not) nor am I saying that you must agree with me but for whatever reason I feel that God wants me to share the battle that is being waged in my mind. I promise that sometime tomorrow I will give some fun, funny and somewhat tearful stories of the past week at the Henderson house but for tonight here goes-

I hope that you will understand as you read this blog that this in no way is meant to say that I have it all together or figured out- There is simply nothing further from the truth. All I know is that in the past few weeks as I have been wrestling with who Christ has called us to be as His followers and the more I have looked around the more I see less of Him in those who claim Him here in America. This week as I read a particular blog, magazine article, listened to David speak on Sunday and spent some time alone with the One we are called to imitate, I realized how far away that I am from who He has called me to be. Here are somethings that have been battling in my mind about Christ followers in America.............I have been wondering if Jesus were here in our city today what would He think about the fact that:

We have beautiful homes and drive fancy cars yet here in our city (and around the world) many are going to sleep tonight with no place to call home.
We have money set aside for our children's education in the future yet there are children who will not be alive tomorrow because they didn't have food to eat today.
We have enormous church buildings for our enjoyment that cost millions of dollars to build and to maintain yet around the world there are people who will never have a Bible written in their native language nor someone there to share Christ's love in person with them.
We swim in pools of fresh water, wash our cars, water our lawns and even decorate with water (sometimes inside our fancy church buildings) when so many in our world haven't ever had clean drinking water and millions are dying because of it.
We make sure our kids have their closets full of clothes and shoes when so many are cold tonight because they have not even one shirt or pair of shoes.
We have pet foot in the frozen section of the grocery store and in the next year half a million children under 5 years old will die in Ethiopia alone due to poor nutrition and healthcare.

It literally makes my stomach hurt to think that we are Christ followers aren't stepping up to do more. It breaks my heart that in the past year David and I have been told by pastors, "I am so glad that you and your church are into the whole adoption thing, we're just not into that." Since when do we get to choose what we want to be into? When God's word says to care for the poor, needy, orphans, widows, and the least of these why do we think we have a right to say we (and our church) aren't called to that?

I was forwarded a blog today from a church who is having a food drive and attached to the short note about the food drive was Luke 6:38- "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."- Seriously......we are saying to Christ followers to give to a food drive so that it will be given back to you. I am not sure that Jesus ever loved, gave or sacrificed His life to get something back from us. Our society is such a "me" driven culture that even our churches are using , "You can get more if you give, instead of challenging people to give because Christ first gave to us." I believe the truth of this scripture but to use it in this way? (Sorry got on my soap box there....... I will stop)

I want to be very careful right here because I dearly love so many that poured truth into my life while I was growing up. I am who I am today because so many invested into my life, yet I grew up in church and heard very little about caring for the poor, needy, outcast, orphans, widows, and lost for that matter. If I did hear about the poor and needy it was usually about how the "bus kids" from a low income housing development were causing issues but I never remember being challenged to love and care for them. I can't think of one family in that church that adopted children who were in need of a home. I know that money was sent to help in the area of missions but very few times were we ask to join in and actually do the mission. I was taught how to pray and I even learned how to spend an hour a day praying which is very important yet only praying doesn't share the love of Jesus with those He has placed us here to love. Again, I am so thankful for what was taught to me, yet I hope that for the next generation they will be a light into the darkness not just a light where light already exist.

I say all of this to say that after years and years of our American culture telling us to look out for ourself and our family I think that we as Christ followers have been sucked into believing that even our relationship with Him is all about us. Little by little our churches have bought into needing to be more comfortable and modern all the while the "world" around us is literally dying and going to hell both here in America and around the world. I promise that if you ask any nonbeliever what their town needs they won't say another church building. I promise that if you travel with me to Zway, Ethiopia and visit with Case Abraham, at his tiny church, you will see how far away from being an imitation of Jesus you and I really are. When we have nothing and are promised nothing are we still willing to go all out as we imitate our Father?

"Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.” Ezekiel 16:49

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tears, Tears and NO Tears........

Yesterday afternoon as Garrett and Tia hopped off of the school bus I was waiting in the car to pick them up. Megan had joined me at the bus stop and she was going to take Jacob and Lindsay home while I took Garrett and Tia to the doctor. Now I knew not to mention to the twins where we were going because I knew that neither of them would get into the car. They both jumped in and I made sure that the child safety locks were engaged as I closed their doors. The only information they knew at this point was that daddy was waiting on us so we needed to hurry.
We pulled out of our neighborhood and they were both thrilled that we were going to see daddy until Garrett ask me where we were going to see him. I quickly and somewhat quietly said that we were meeting him at the doctor's office. As soon as the words were out of my mouth Tia said, "No ouch! No Ouch! Me no go!" Garrett said, "Seriously? Seriously? Where we go?" At that point I knew that I was glad that I had thought well in advance and had David add to his schedule to meet us at the doctors office. The rest of the twenty minute ride was full of them saying, "No Ouch" and "Me no go" but I hadn't experienced anything yet.
About a month ago Tia and Garrett had their very first doctors appointment here in the US. It was not such a great experience and that was no fault of Cabarrus Pediatrics. The staff was simply amazing with our children and Dr. Douglas went out of his way to care for both of them however they both had to give about eight vials of blood. It took about five minutes each of them being held down by myself and a nurse while another nurse took the blood and that was no easy task. I had not thought ahead on this visit and so I found myself there all alone with two kids who were completely out of control, scared and in pain.
As we pulled into the parking lot at Cabarrus Pediatrics yesterday both Tia and Garrett started to cry. Not a small cry but a loud terrified cry. As I parked the car I noticed that Garrett quickly took off his seat belt and was climbing to the back of our extended Yukon. Tia was holding her seat belt buckle so that it could not be opened. I was so thankful that I saw David pull in as I was turning off the ignition. I stepped out of the car and started to pray as David came over to my car. I shook my head and quickly told him that this was not going to be good. He opened the car door and heard the crying and he quickly agreed.
I told David that I would get Tia if he could get Garrett because I remembered Garrett's strength from the last office visit. I went around to open Tia's door and she was as stiff as a board. I finally got her unbuckled and she would not let me pick her up. I finally got my arms around her to scoop her up and I carried her like a baby into the office. I really have no idea how David got Garrett out of the back of the car but soon we all four found ourselves sitting in the waiting room with two wailing kids. Yes, everyone in the well child area turned to look at us and the ladies behind the desk were laughing as we entered. They remembered us from last time when they thought our kids were so precious until the blood drawing part of our visit.
We sat in the waiting room for several minutes and neither of the kids settled down. Every time the nurse would come out to get another patient Tia would say, "No go!" We just thought the crying was loud but when the nurse came out and called for Tia and Garrett they both were screaming. As a mom my heart was aching yet I knew that what we were doing for them was something so misunderstood by them. They felt we were taking them there to get hurt yet we were doing this to protect them and make them better.
When it was time to sign the forms to allow the nurse to give the injections Tia looked right at me, deep into my eyes. She then tried to escape the room as I signed the papers and she understood enough to say, "Mommy, you say to give me ouch?" I almost cried as I said yes and tried to explain that I love her and that is why she has to have these shots. I am doing this for her own good yet until she is much older she will not fully understand. She of course didn't understand and tried to grab the papers from me as I sat them up on the exam table.
Isn't this so much like yourself, I thought to myself as I sat there. God allows so many things that you feel are hurtful and hard, yet He is working out His plan in your life while you kick and scream the entire time. Things that He plans to use for good and I, just like Tia, want to run or tear up the papers so they won't happen. As they continued to cry I couldn't help but think of some of the painful situations and circumstances in my past that have shaped me into who I am. Days that I wouldn't like to relive but days that I would gladly relive to get to where I am now. Each day as I want to cry, kick, scream, and tear up the papers, I hope that I will instead rest in my Father's arms and trust Him to be working out all things for my good because I love Him. When I do this I will be just like Tia and Garrett as we carried them out of the doctor's office their tears subsided and their fear turned to joy as they knew their daddy had planned a special treat after such a rough few minutes. I think they found the ice cream to be worth all of the pain!